Thursday, January 22, 2009

El Paso Natural Gas, Navajo Nation settle right of way suit for $350 million

A years-long fight between the Navajo Nation and El Paso Natural Gas Co. over a pipeline right of way easement has been settled with a deal that will pay the tribe about $350 million over 20 years.
That's more than 10 times what the previous lease brought in for the tribe, which battled fiercely for higher payments when it expired in 2005. The tribe and the Houston-based company reached an agreement on the economic terms of a lease last year, but jurisdictional issues remained a sticking point, said Arvin Trujillo, director of the tribes Division of Natural Resources.
The Tribal Council's Resources Committee finally approved the agreement earlier this month. It still must go before the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, but Trujillo called that a formality.
Under the agreement, El Paso, which operates 900 miles of pipeline on the reservation, will pay the tribe $18 million a year for the lease that expires in 2025. The previous lease signed in the mid-1980s was valued at $29 million.
"We're wanting to continue our relationship with El Paso," Trujillo said. "We did go through some very difficult negotiations at different points and times. Positions were made but, again, it's part of the process."

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