Band Calls For Inquiry Into Oil Sands Permits

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 14:24



A northwest Saskatchewan First Nation is raising questions about how an Alberta company received its oil sands exploration permits north of La Loche.


The Clearwater River Dene Nation notes Oilsands Quest bought oil shale permits in 2004.


However, the provincial government transferred them to oil sands permits last year — and the band is demanding an inquiry into how that was carried out.


Specifically, the First Nation is questioning what authority the provincial government had to convert the permits.


The band argues there was no reason for the government to do so — and calls the move an “adminstrative error” that has cost Saskatchewan people hundreds of millions of dollars.


But Energy and Resources spokesman Roy Schneider says the move was an administrative change made to reflect an updating of government regulatory processes.


Schneider says it was not an attempt to offer any “under-the-table advantage” to the company, and he doesn’t see the need for any kind of public inquiry into the matter.


The band staged a blockade against Oilsands Quest last summer when impact benefit agreement negotiations broke down.


The company’s permits in northwest Saskatchewan have an estimated value of $528 million.