North

Gov't confirms new interest in oil and gas in northern Yukon

The Yukon government says there is new interest in acquiring oil and gas rights in the Eagle Plains area — but won't offer any more details.

Expression of interest received last July, but government still mum on details

Northern Cross drilled four exploratory wells in the Eagle Plains area of northern Yukon in 2012/13. The territorial government says it's received another expression of interest in acquiring oil and gas rights in the area. (Northern Cross)

The Yukon government says there is new interest in acquiring oil and gas rights in the Eagle Plains area — but won't offer any more details.

Ron Sumanik, the territory's director of oil and gas, says the interest was received last July.

Typically, the government calls for expressions of interest twice annually and reports on them to the public soon after. But six months after receiving the latest interest, the government is still mum.

"The regular process to review and consult on those interests... was interrupted by the election and transition to the new government," Sumanik said.

Sumanik says details "will become clear as we lay out the process."

He says the first step will be to consult with affected First Nations.

"Until we've had those discussions, we'll not be making any more information public," Sumanik said.

Sebastian Jones of the Yukon Conservation Society is puzzled by the government's apparent "veil of silence." 

"I am starting to wonder just what exactly happened in July that it should have thrown the process into such apparent disarray," he said.

This wouldn't be the first expression of interest in the Eagle Plains area. Northern Cross is proposing to explore for oil and gas there, but its proposal is still going through an environmental screening.

Another deadline for expression of interest just closed this week, but Sumanik said there were no new submissions.

With files from Cheryl Kawaja

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