Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Federal Money to save a dying Mackenzie Gas Project?

Federal government money-- as a means to destroying the Mackenzie Valley and many of the nations who live within it-- in order to send the gas south to Alberta to (stop me if you've heard this one) destroy the livable biosphere and the people living within it. This is the "alternative" to letting what should die die, i.e., the Mackenzie Gas Project, if left to its own market based devices.

These proposals below are not all that the proponents of the MGP have in store. They want to see Ottawa "guarantee the life" of the pipeline, which translates into many schemes, such as building tremendous infrastructure into the Colville Lake region, leading to the death of perhaps the most traditional Dene community in all of Denendeh.

These plans would *vastly increase* both the social and political damage that comes of the proposed pipeline, all in order to feed gas into the systems and networks supplying energy to the tarsands, who supply raw bitumen that can maintain the US economy.

Yet, even if no organized groupings are saying so, there has never been a better time *in political terms* for us to oppose this destruction of tradition and nature. With skyrocketing projected costs, political opposition to both the MGP and the tarsands growing rapidly, legal opposition from the Dehcho and the Dene Tha having effective though limited success in monkey wrenching the whole operation, it has never been better to say: The Mackenzie Gas Project is not dead; it *must* be killed.


Mackenzie pipeline partners pursue Ottawa's purse
Claudia Cattaneo And John Harding, Financial Post
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2007

CALGARY - Partners in the $16.2-billion Mackenzie Gas Project, who were previously opposed to allowing Ottawa to join the project as a partner, are now pursuing the federal government to take an equity stake, possibly even a majority position.

Proponents, led by Imperial Oil Ltd., are to meet today with the federal government to discuss the massive project's fiscal terms. The talks will include an equity partnership with Ottawa that was recently "thrown on the table," said Randy Meades, executive director of the federal project co-ordination secretariat at the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

"This option that was not on the table before is on the table now and we have to flesh it out a little bit before we understand what it means," said Mr. Meades, who is a participant in the talks for the federal government.

As recently as last year, the consortium of oil companies was vehemently opposed to allowing the government in. But that position has changed with cost estimates rising to $16.2-billion in March from $7.5-billion only two years ago.

According to speculation, the partners may ask Ottawa to take 50% or more of the project. Mr. Meades said the specifics have not yet been discussed.

He suggested the inclusion of the federal government could involve complex negotiations and a restructuring of the ownership agreement between the companies, Imperial Oil Ltd., ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group.

"We will take it one step at a time," he said.

All partners appear to be committed to the project.

"Our position hasn't changed," said Shell spokesman Jeff Mann.

Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser maintained his firm's position that government participation will not improve the project's economic challenges, but also that Imperial is open to discussing all options on fiscal terms.

"The government simply assuming an equity position doesn't fundamentally change the economic challenges the project faces. Having said that, we're open to discussing any and all options that might improve the project's economics," he said.

Meanwhile, Imperial filed a document with the National Energy Board giving detailed explanations on the cost increases.

In the document, the company said Alberta's economy would be the main beneficiary from the project, even though the pipeline ends at its border.

The largest impact of direct employment over the construction period of four years was estimated to be in Alberta, where 10,245 jobs, or 51% of the employment, would be created. The next-largest impact would be in the Northwest Territories, where 3,225 jobs would be created.

Alberta would have the greatest share of direct GDP generated, at $3.4-billion, as a result of construction, followed by $1.3-billion in the Northwest Territories.

The document shows the companies would spend $2-billion in infrastructure in the North, but a highway to the Arctic from Alberta is not part of the plan. The idea was championed by Joe Handley, the Premier of the Northwest Territories as a legacy to improve life in the North.

"We have seen the filing and we consider this a great opportunities for the Northwest Territories to lever some of the work that needs to be done for this project into legacy benefits for our residents," said Brendan Bell, the Northwest Territories minister responsible for the project.

The document also says the pipeline's first full year of operation would be in 2015.


© National Post 2007

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