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Petroleum show tries to look past pipeline
'Everybody's hurting' - minister

Katie May
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 25, 2010

INUVIK - Delegates at Inuvik's 10th annual Petroleum Show tried to steer clear of too much pipeline talk last week as interest in the industry event continues to decline, awaiting conclusion of the National Energy Board's regulatory review process.

NNSL photo/graphic

Bob McLeod, minister of ITI, said the mood at this year's Inuvik Petroleum Show is brighter than last year, but attendance is still declining. - Katie May/NNSL photo

About 400 people attended the trade show, down slightly from last year. In previous years the event has pulled in upwards of 600 delegates interested in oil and gas development in the region. The town spends hundreds of thousands of dollars putting on the event every year.

Organizer Larry Peckford said he believes this year's show, which ran from June 22 to 25, was "on par" with last year's event.

"I'm not saying that we didn't push hard to get people to pay attention," Peckford said. "We did deliberately try to broaden the discussion," he added, explaining some people have gotten weary of hearing about the wait for the proposed pipeline, "but never to exclude talk about the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline."

Talks focused more on other opportunities for Arctic development, including offshore drilling in the Beaufort Sea a bleak subject in light of BP's ongoing oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico.

Bob McLeod, GNWT minister of Industry Tourism and Investment, told delegates the GNWT now can't do much but lobby the federal government and wait until September for its response to the Joint Review Panel's pipeline recommendations.

"The mood to me seems a little better than last year. Last year was probably the worst. Now that we're seeing the end of the regulatory review of the pipeline, people can see an end to that process and we're hoping it will be a positive outcome," he said.

"My main concern is, in my travels visiting communities along the pipeline's proposed right-of-way, everybody's really hurting. People are looking for jobs, businesses are finding really slim pickings and what they're telling us is that unless there's something positive announced soon, likely a lot of them won't survive past the next six months," McLeod added, taking on a less optimistic tone.

"At the end of the day, if there's no pipeline, we look at the alternatives. We've got to try to develop the local economy But if you ask the people of Inuvik, they say the pipeline is the local economy."

The Petroleum Show was scheduled to wrap up June 25.

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