Shell Canada withdrawing plans to develop coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters
Shell Canada will no longer be pursuing any coalbed methane development in the Klappan, an area where the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers form known by First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters.
The announcement of an agreement between to Province of B.C., the Tahltan and Shell Canada came on the morning of Dec. 18, an agreement that will see Shell immediately withdraw plans to develop the area and return the 3,200 square-kilometres in tenure acquired in 2004 back to the government.
“Shell has a robust portfolio of exploration and production opportunities in North America. Currently, Klappan is not a priority project and Shell has decided that it will not pursue oil and gas activities within the Klappan region of Northwest British Columbia at this time,” said manager of communications for Shell Canada Larry Lalonde in a statement.
“Additionally, Shell proposes to conduct reclamation work on sites where we were active in 2004 and 2007. This reclamation work is consistent with Shell’s sustainable development principles to ensure these sites return to a natural state."
To prevent any conflicts about developing the area in the future, and as part of the agreement, the provincial government will not issue any future petroleum or natural gas development tenures in the Klappan area.
“The Klappan is one of the most sacred and important areas for our people. It is a place of tremendous cultural, spiritual, historic and social importance. Our people do not want to see it developed, and we look forward to working with B.C. on achieving permanent protection of the Klappan," said Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee.
Shell had drilled three test wells in 2004 and Shell decided to suspend its planned exploration of coalbed methane in the Klappan in the fall of 2008.
Then in December of 2008, the provincial government facilitated this break in exploration by specifying there be no activity for two years.