Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The MacKenzie Delta Lecture

Brendan Bell, who is the Northwest Territories Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, is touring the US with the aim of drumming up support for a 16 billion dollar pipeline project from the Mackenzie Delta (on the shore of the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories, Canada) to the Alberta extra-capacity lines and thus to Southern markets (the good ole' USA). His opening lecture focussed on the Energy and Environmental Analysis Inc. (EEA) Gas Market Models which attempted to quantify the costs for US consumers of not going ahead with the project. The number they came up with was $340 billion from the period 2014-2025.

After the lecture, Daniel Enderton prodded the speaker to discuss in more depth the political dynamic involved given the seemingly competing Alaskan pipeline project. From this point, the Minister started to discuss very interesting matters from the politics of protectionism, the issues which are presently most important for the project (financial commitments from the IOCs, in particular Exxon) and why the project is so important for the Northwest Territories (high unemployment, little development, etc). The minister also emphasized how infrastructure (or lack of it) can swell the costs very significantly for such projects.