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Pipeline payments to have Alberta farmers beaming

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Traditionally marching to a different beat than the rest of the Canadian petroleum industry, Nova, an Alberta corporation, is yet again stealing the lead on a new compensation package for farmers here.

Farmers from the Peace River block (with the most northerly arable land in North America) to the Montana border welcome Nova's nonconformity.

There is also a very grateful provincial government in Edmonton, the Alberta capital. It is deeply indebted once more to the unobtrusive footwork of executive Robert Blair and his colleagues, successfully negotiating some of the most slippery political grounds.

It's all about Alberta farmers receiving annual fees for the trouble caused by pipelines crisscrossing their lands, instead of the lump-sum payments struck in the past.

In the corporate head offices of local oil and natural gas producers, annoyed executives of other pipeline operators are denouncing this latest Nova experiment. They fear that Premier Peter Lougheed, in his eagerness to court the rural vote at his crucial time, will in the end compel them to yield major fiscal concessions to Alberta farmers and ranchers.

Nova, formerly Alberta Gas Truck Line Company Ltd., an investor-owned company with a provincial charter to be the exclusive shipper of all the gas produced within the province, is now a fast-growing conglomerate already into manufacturing, petrochemicals, and alternative energy projects. Its extramural activities in fact are the results of moving some 6 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

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