[excerpt] Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod is confident his region is within sight of taking greater control over the exploitation of its natural resources and collecting a direct share of royalties and taxes, all of which could open the door to serious development of Canada’s North.
Following a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Aug. 22 he boldly forecast that the NWT will have a “devolution agreement” in place by April 2014, concluding many years of hopes raised and hopes dashed.
The deal would give the NWT the right to set its own pace for oil, natural gas and mineral development and no longer rely on the Canadian government to return a portion of the revenues it collects from the extraction and sale of those commodities.
McLeod told Petroleum News that he and Harper “agreed to keep working together to make sure we meet some deadlines and make sure an agreement comes into effect in April 2014.”
He said the initial phase of devolution would apply only to the onshore, but once a pact is in place “we’ll negotiate the offshore.”
An offshore deal would be consistent with pacts the federal government has in place to cover the offshore of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, McLeod said.
He also said he took the opportunity to drive home a message to Harper that opening up Canada’s Arctic would be a vital element of a national energy strategy.
Currently, Canada’s 10 provinces own their resources and determine how they are developed.
“Every province and territory should be able to develop and market natural resources without being held up in a regulatory logjam,” McLeod said.
“The ultimate irony is that we (the NWT) have all this oil and gas and we still have to import fuel to heat our homes.”10