RTA returns lands to Cheslatta Carrier Nation

Rio Tinto Alcan transfered  sixty three district lots totalling just over 11,000 acres or 4,4500 hectares  of land to the Cheslatta Carrier Nation in British Columbia on Monday, Jan. 30. 2012.

The transfer took place at a ceremony at the community hall at Grassy Plains, BC, near Burns Lake.

A news release from Rio Tinto Alcan quotes  Jean Simon, president and chief executive officer, Primary Metal, Rio Tinto Alcan, as saying.  “This important event is the culmination of over ten years of discussions between us and the community to return these traditional lands to the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. Today is an important milestone and represents how we can move forward cooperatively,”

“I am honoured to be the one, on behalf of our company, to bring this long standing issue to conclusion for the benefit of the Cheslatta Carrier  Nation people.”

The release quotes Cheslatta Chief Richard Peters: “Today we get back what we lost 60 years ago. Land is the backbone of any community and this land is truly the foundation for our future.  We are most grateful for the hard work and dedication of former Cheslatta leaders and we also thank Rio Tinto Alcan for being a modern and progressive corporation that understands the significance of the land to the Cheslatta people. We are fully committed to continue working together.”

The RTA release also quotes  Paul Henning, vice president, Strategic Projects, Western Canada for Rio Tinto Alcan a saying: “I am proud of the respectful and effective relationship that we have developed with the Cheslatta Carrier Nation. I am also proud that both parties demonstrated great patience, support and commitment to this process that allows us to recognize the past while opening a new door to a brighter future.”

The Cheslatta Nation says the land will be held as fee simple, private property. It will not be an Indian reservation, and not subject to the Indian Act. The Cheslatta have no immediate plans for the 64 lots sitting on the Cheslatta and Ootsa Lakes. The Cheslatta also presented a 40-acre, 17 hectare, parcel of shoreline property on Ootsa Lake to several non-native residents of the area, with hopes that a recreation complex might be established there one day.

How Alcan obtained the traditional Cheslatta territory when the company was building the Kenney Dam in preparation for the Kitimat project has been controversial ever since the events began 60 years ago in 1952.

According to John Kendrick’s history, People of the Snow, the History of Kitimat, Alcan worked through the then Department of Indian Affairs at the time the company built a temporary dam on Murray Lake.   Building that dam flooded the then Cheslatta reserve and traditional hunting, fishing and logging lands in the Ootsa Lake area.

According to Kendrick, Indian Affairs gave the Cheslatta Nation just one week to move from the existing reserve to the current location at Grassy Plains.  The history says that while many members of the Cheslatta Nation were out on traplines, those remaining in the settlement were pressured by Indian Affairs to vote in favour of “surrender” of the land. Due to misunderstandings, Kendrick says, what the Cheslatta Nation thought was compensation for just the move was actually the “surrender payment” and the new settlement had to be paid for out of that money. There was no compensation for loss of other traditional lands or traplines.

The Cheslatta did reach a settlement with Alcan in the late 1980s.

 

 

 

TransCanada says it will reapply to build Keystone XL pipeline

TransCanada has issued a statement saying that it will apply to the United States government to build the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta bitumen sands to Texas.

Related: Obama adminstration rejects Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada can reapply

The statement reads, in part:

This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated. While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL. Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer. “We will re-apply for a Presidential Permit and expect a new application would be processed in an expedited manner to allow for an in-service date of late 2014.”

TransCanada expects that consideration of a renewed application will make use of the exhaustive record compiled over the past three plus years.

“Until this pipeline is constructed, the U.S. will continue to import millions of barrels of conflict oil from the Middle East and Venezuela and other foreign countries who do not share democratic values Canadians and Americans are privileged to have,” added Girling. “Thousands of jobs continue to hang in the balance if this project does not go forward. This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed.”

TransCanada will continue to work collaboratively with Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality on determining the safest route for Keystone XL that avoids the Sandhills. This process is expected to be complete in September or October of this year.

TransCanada has committed to a project labour agreement with the Laborers International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Pipeline Contractors Association. Any delay in approval of construction prevents this work from going to thousands of hard-working trades people.

TransCanada’s investment of billions of private dollars would create thousands more jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector. The company has contracts with over 50 suppliers across the U.S.. Manufacturing locations for Keystone XL equipment include: Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Arkansas, Kansas, California and Pennsylvania. The benefits these companies and the people of their states continue to be delayed and the negative impacts will be felt.

Girling adds TransCanada continues to believe in Keystone XL due to the overwhelming support the project has received from American and Canadian producers and U.S. refiners who signed 17 to 18 year contracts to ship over 600,000 barrels of oil per day to meet the needs of American consumers.

Obama adminstration rejects Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada can reapply

The US State Department has rejected the application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL from the Alberta bitumen sands to Texas. But the door is open for TransCanada to reapply for a permit, using a new route.

Soon after the announcement from Washingon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement saying that President Barack Obama called Harper to let him know abut the decision. Harper’s release expresses his “profound disappointment” with the decision.

Related TransCanada says it will reapply to build Keystone XL pipeline

In a news conference, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told reporters that the decision was disappointing and “in the best interests of both countries.” Oliver said the process is not over and he hoped that the Keystone project will “eventually approved on its merits.”

He said: “The responsible development of the oil sands…is expected to create thousands of jobs and bring significant economic benefits.”

He added that the Obama decision underlined the importance of diversifying the energy market, especially to Asia.

The State Department says.

Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest…

On December 23, 2011, the Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (“the Act”). The Act provides 60 days for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest – which is insufficient for such a determination.

The Department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application or applications for similar projects.

 

The White House issued a statement saying:

Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.

Blue Horizon obtains injunction to stop Methanex equipment leaving Kitimat site

Old Methanex site, Kitimat BC
A truck enters the old Methanex site, now being dismantled, on the snowy afternoon of January 13, 2012. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Blue Horizon, the company that had  and lost the contract to  dismantle the old Methanex site in Kitimat has obtained an injunction preventing the buyer of the equipment from removing the material from the site by the Kitimat River.

Last November, Ko Yo Development of Hong Kong cancelled its contract with Blue Horizon that would have seen the equipment in the plant dismantled and shipped to China.

Part of the old Methanex site is now operated by Cenovus and is used to ship condensate to the Alberta bitumen sands by rail.

Shell purchased the Methanex site and marine terminal in October, 2011, as part of its plans for a liquified natural gas facility at Kitimat.  At the time of the contract cancellation in November, Shell spokesman Stephen Doolan told Northwest Coast Energy News  “The transaction … does not affect Shell’s purchase of the Cenovus property, nor is Shell involved in any way.” On Friday, Doolan said he had nothing more to add to the original statement.

A news release issued by Blue Horizon says:

Blue Horizon Industries Inc. (“Blue Horizon” or the “Corporation”) (CNSX:BH) announces that its wholly owned subsidiary Blue Horizon Energy Inc. (“BH Energy”), on behalf of its wholly owned division Blue Horizon Contracting, obtained on January 12, 2012 an injunction in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Vancouver Registry, prohibiting Ko Yo Development Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong incorporated company (“KoYo”) and Guangan Lotusan Natural Gas Chemicals Co. Ltd., a corporation incorporated under the laws of the Peoples Republic of China (“GLN”) from removing any portion of the dismantled ammonia or methanol plants from the Province of British Columbia unless and until KoYo / GLN posts security in court in the amount of $4,180,000 by way of an irrevocable letter of credit or other security acceptable to BH Energy and to the Court.

Mr. Don Allan, President and CEO of Blue Horizon, stated “We are pleased that the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled quickly and decisively in this matter by issuing the injunction against KoYo / GLN while at the same time awarding significant security for costs and court costs to BH Energy. We are continuing to focus our attention on completing the bid process for a number of new high value dismantling contracts expected to be awarded for execution in 2012 as well as advancing our other operating businesses.”

 

The dispute between Blue Horizon, the Red Deer  based contractor  and Hong Kong based Ko Yo goes back months.   The original contract was awarded in February, 2011, renegotiated in September 2011 and then cancelled in November, 2011.

Bula sign on Methanex site
On the Methanex Project sign at the entrance to the decomissioning site, stencils from Bula.ca, the new contractor, can be seen overwriting Blue Horizon, the former contractor. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The dismantling of the Methanex plant has since resumed with work being handled by a new contractor, Bula Enterprises, also of Red Deer.  A profile of Bula Enterprises on the website shows that  it has extensive construction experience, much of it in the Alberta   oil patch, including projects for Shell Albian, CNRL, Suncor, Conoco Phillips in Fort McMurray. As of late Friday afternoon, Bula had not returned calls seeking comment on how the injunction might affect the deocommissioning.

Ko Yo Chemical (Group) Limited, formerly Ko Yo Ecological Agrotech (Group) Limited, is a Hong Kong based investment holding company. According to a company profile it is engaged in the research and development, manufacture, marketing and distribution of chemical products, chemical fertilizers and bulk blending fertilizers and has a natural gas energy utilization project at Dazhou City, Sichuan Province, China. The company has a number of subsidiaries with similar names.

 

Editorial: Just asking: why didn’t anyone object to the Americans at the NEB LNG hearings in Kitimat?

The Joint Review Panel hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline are less than 48 hours from now. The media are packing their bags and coming to Kitimat (or perhaps Terrace since this town is booked solid).

The propaganda war, and it can only be called a propaganda war, is in full force, driven mostly by right wing columnist Ezra Levant and his Ethical Oil organization, objecting to “foreign intervenors in the pipeline hearings at another site OurDecision.ca

This now seems to have widespread support, in a Twitter debate last night, many even moderate conservatives and even moderate Albertans were saying there is too much foreign influence in the JRP hearings.

I have one question for these people. Where were you in June? On a beach?

It was in June that the National Energy Board held hearings on the first of the three proposed Liquified Natural Gas projects in Kitimat. No media hordes descended on Kitimat. At those hearings only local reporters showed up and I was the only one that stuck through the entire proceedings. (The NEB did approve the export application)

So when the media quote Levant and his spokesperson Kathryn Marshall, the widespread stories about this malevolent foreign influence are inaccurate because they weren’t in Kitimat in June so they didn’t hear all those deep Texas drawls in the hearing room at the Riverlodge Recreation Centre.

Although a lot of good reporters are coming into town this week, they’ll all be gone by Thursday morning when the JRP hearings move on to Terrace.

So in today’s Sun Media papers Levant says:

Who should decide whether Canada should build an oil pipeline to our west coast — Canadian citizens or foreign interests?
That’s what the fight over the Northern Gateway pipeline is about. Sure, it’s also about $20 billion a year for the Canadian economy and thousands of jobs. It’s about opening up export markets in Asia. It’s about enough new tax dollars to pay for countless hospitals and schools.
But it’s really about Canadian sovereignty. Do we get to make our own national decisions, or will we let foreign interests interfere?
The answer should be obvious to any self-respecting Canadian: This is a Canadian matter, and Canadians should decide it.

Why weren’t Levant and the rest of the blue-eyed sheikh crowd (OK they don’t all have blue yes but you know what I mean) across the Rockies here in June objecting to those Americans interfering in Canadian affairs with their plans to export liquefied natural gas to Asia?

Who is behind the Kitimat LNG project? Well, the KMLNG partners are Houston, Texas based Apache Corporation, Houston, Texas based EOG Resources and Encana, a company that originated in Canada but now has extensive operations in the United States and around the world.

The second LNG project, which is now before the National Energy Board, is BC LNG, a partnership between a Houston, Texas-based energy company and the Haisla First Nation here in Kitimat.

The third LNG project is coming from energy giant Royal Dutch Shell.

When are we going to see Ethical Oil and all those conservative columnists objecting to American participation when the NEB holds hearings on the second and third LNG projects?

This goes all the way to the centre of power. Stephen Harper objects to the Northern Gateway hearings being “hijacked by foreign money.” I notice the Prime Minister didn’t object to the hearings in June with American companies Apache and EOG investing in a natural gas pipeline. Cabinet ministers Joe Oliver and Peter Kent are also concerned about foreign influence on pipeline projects. That is they are only worried about possible foreign influence when it comes to the environment. Foreign influences that are building natural gas pipelines and LNG terminal facilities are perfectly fine, thank you.

Blaming “foreign influence”, of course, is one of the oldest dirty tricks in the political playbook. In recent days Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has blamed foreign influence for the demonstrations against the rigged election in that country. In Syria, Bashir al-Assad is still blaming “foreign agitators” for the revolt against his regime. Before they were ousted, both Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Mohamar Gaddafi of Libya blamed “foreign agitators” for the Arab Spring. Go to Google News and type in “foreign influence” or “foreign agitators” and now that Google News also searches news archives, you can find stories of politicians all over the world blaming foreigners for their troubles going back to the turn of the last century.

It’s just sad to see Canada’s leading politicians and the major media joining that sorry tradition.

Note Natural Gas is not bitumen

Some in the media seems to be puzzled that most of the people in northern British Columbia are not objecting to the liquified natural gas projects. The media seem puzzled that KM LNG has been able to reach agreements with First Nations along the natural gas pipeline routes when Enbridge can’t.

(One factor is that Enbridge got off on the wrong foot with First Nations and things have generally gone downhill from there, leading people in northwest BC to question the general competence of Enbridge management.)

The answer is that natural gas is not bitumen. Natural gas is known factor. Bitumen, despite the thousands of pages of documents field by Enbridge with the JRP, is an unknown factor since there has never been a major bitumen disaster.

The worst case scenario, a catastrophic LNG ship explosion, could cause a huge forest fire. A natural gas pipeline breach under the right conditions could start a big forest fire. The environment of northwestern British Columbia has evolved to deal with fires. After such an incident, nature would take over and the forest would eventually come back. It is likely that the forest would take longer to recover than it would from a lightning strike fire, but the forest would recover. Bitumen leaking into salmon spawning rivers would kill the rivers. Bitumen stuck at the deep and rocky bottom of Douglas Channel would contaminate the region, probably for centuries.

It’s that simple.

 


Related Terrace Daily  No Apology Forthcoming by Gerald Amos

Giant Japanese energy consortium buys into BC shale gas

Energy

A large Japanese consortium lead by Inpex Corporation has agreed to buy  a 40 per cent stake in shale gas assets owned by Calgary-based Nexen, an energy exploration company.

A Nexen news release calls the deal “a strategic partnership.”  The deal is worth $700 million and covers the development of shale gas deposits in the Horn River, Cordova and Liard basins in northeast BC

Inpex is a partner with Shell in an Indonesian liquified natural gas project. Shell recently purchased the old Methanex site and marine terminal in Kitimat.

Nexen will continue to manage operations at the deposits.
 

The news release quotes Marvin Romanow, Nexen’s President and Chief Executive Officer, as saying :”This joint venture represents a significant milestone in the advancement of our shale gas strategy and the premium over our invested cost shows the value we have created in a short time. The transaction provides us with world-class partners that have significant upstream and LNG expertise. It also recognizes the outstanding team we have put in place and the execution excellence they have consistently demonstrated.”

The Nexen release goes on to say:

Inpex currently conducts 71 oil and gas projects in 26 countries, making them Japan’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. They are engaged in exploration, development and production activities around the globe with production of over 400,000 boe/d and have the largest oil and gas reserves and production volume of any Japanese E&P company.

Inpex brings significant LNG expertise and market access to the partnership. They own interests in large LNG projects including resource in both Indonesia and Australia and are building a regasification terminal in Japan. Inpex holds a 76% working interest in the Ichthys LNG project offshore Australia and is the operator. The project is expected to deliver LNG production volumes of 8.4 million tonnes per year. Inpex holds a 60% working interest in the Abadi LNG project offshore eastern Indonesia and is the operator (in July 2011, Inpex signed an agreement with Shell for transfer of a 30% participating interest. This transaction is subject to certain conditions). The project is expected to deliver LNG production volumes of 2.5 million tonnes per year. The production volume from these two projects is equivalent to 15% or more of Japan’s current LNG annual import volumes.

Energy industry tweeters are already speculating that the natural gas will likely be exported through Kitimat.

US NTSB to pipeline companies: Call 911 in an emergency

It sounds obvious. In an emergency (in most of North America) dial 911.

Only according a US National Transportation Safety Board Report dated June 8 and released today, Pacific Gas and Electric didn’t call 911 in California at the time of a major pipeline breach and fire  on Sept. 9, 2010, in San Bruno, California that caused an explosion that killed eight people, injured many more and caused extensive property damage.
The NTSB report says that while the San Bruno Fire Department was aware of the local natural gas distribution system, the department had no maps and had no briefings on the larger, natural gas transmission pipelines that transversed San Bruno.
The NTSB report says
Because of the differences in operating characteristics, transmission pipelines have different safety risks and concerns for emergency response, including the pipeline company’s  ability to shutdown the pipeline rapidly.  

In a manner similar to the Enbridge situation in Michigan last year (the NTSB report on that incident is still pending), the PG&E data system showed a pressure drop within four minutes of the rupture. 

But it was two off-duty employees who alerted the company’s dispatchers three minutes later to a possible problem.

PG&E dispatched a single technician to the scene who was not authorized to shut off valves. 

In the meantime, public calls to 911 reported the rupture and fire and first responders got to the initial scene in three minutes.

It was not until a technician arrived at the scene and reported in some 16 minutes after the event began that PG&E control room put together the drop in pressure, alarms and dispatcher information and realized that they had a major problem. 

 The NTSB report says in the next paragraph after the incident summary

 

A pipeline operator’s prompt notification to the local emergency response agencies through a 911 emergency call center can be crucial to the success of the emergency response effort and protection of the public. Even in the case of a smaller, slower leak that does not immediately ignite, when the pipeline operator has immediately notified local emergency response authorities of a potential serious problem, can mobilize needed response resources and area better able to recognize quickly the symptoms of a potential serious gas leak threat

.

Apparently under current US regulations, there is no requirement for pipeline operators to call 911.

The report goes on to say

 

The NTSB is concerned that a pipeline operator that does not require control room operators to notify the applicable 911 emergency call center in the event of a possible pipeline rupture can adversely affect the timeliness and effectiveness of emergency response effort. Therefore, the NTSB recommends that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issue guidance to operators of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines and hazardous liquid pipelines regarding the importance of control room operators immediately and directly notifying the 911 emergency call center(s) for the communities and jurisdictions which those pipelines are located when a possible rupture of any pipeline is indicated.

Read the NTSB report on 911 response to the PG&E San Bruno pipeline disaster.

Editors’s Note:

It is clear that this brief NTSB report  (it is still investigating the actual cause of the rupture and explosion) confirms the fears of residents of northwestern British Columbia about pipeline ruptures in the wilderness, whether those pipelines carry bitumen or natural gas, are harder to detect and fix than problems in populated areas like California.
Also residents of northwestern BC are entitled to get more information from the National Energy Board, the BC Utilities Commission and the companies that are proposing large scale transmission of natural gas through this region about the special hazards related to transmission pipelines mentioned in the NTSB report.
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Malaysia buys stake in BC shale, eyes West Coast LNG export terminal

A Canadian energy company, Progress Energy Resources, based in Calgary, has agreed to sell 50 per cent its stake in  a BC shale gas development called North Montney to Malaysia’s state oil firm Petronas  for $1.07 billion Canadian ($1.09 billion US). The two plan to build  an LNG export terminal somewhere on the BC West Coast for the export of liguified natural gas to Malaysia and possibly other parts of Asia.

The Progress news release says:

Petronas and Progress will 
establish an LNG export joint venture (the “LNG Export Joint Venture”) 
to be 80 per cent  [by Petronas] and 20 per cent owned [by Progress], respectively. The LNG Export
 Joint Venture will launch a feasibility study to evaluate building and
operating a new LNG export facility on the West Coast of British
Columbia. Petronas would be the operator of this facility, and Petronas 
and Progress would jointly market the LNG utilizing Petronas’
well-established and extensive network of customers in the largest LNG
markets globally.

 No location was mentioned for the proposed LNG terminal.

In the news release Michael Culbert, President and Chief Executive Officer of Progress was quoted as saying:

“We look forward to working with West Coast British Columbia communities as we pursue this opportunity to build a new facility that will add value to British Columbia’s natural resourceswhile creating considerable long-term local economic benefits.”

Culbert also said in the news release:

 

“This is a breakthrough transaction for Progress: the partnership we are
launching will enable us to accelerate our growth strategy….
”We are very pleased to form this long-term partnership with PETRONAS.
They share our belief that our North Montney shale assets are a
world-class resource that deserves significant investment.  We look 
forward to benefitting from PETRONAS’ significant global expertise
 including their leadership in developing infrastructure and accessing
 LNG markets. As well as enhancing Progress shareholder value, this 
partnership will also generate substantial economic benefits for local
communities and the province of British Columbia, while leveraging the 
environmental benefits of Canada’s abundant and clean-burning natural
 gas resources globally.

This is the first time that Petronas has entered the Canadian energy market, an indication of the growing scramble in Asia for BC oil shale and likely Alberta oil sands.  

Petronas, the national oil and gas company of Malaysia is one of the Fortune Global 500, with oil, gas and petrochemical interests in more than 30 countries. The company calls itself  one of the world’s leading LNG companies and is involved in all parts of the LNG business, from liquefaction and shipping to re-gasification and trading. As well as Malaysia, it has assets in Australia, Egypt and the United Kingdom.

For the public, Petronas is best known as the owner of the giant twin towers that dominate the skyline of Kuala Lumpur.

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