KITIMAT, B.C. - Members of a First Nation in northern British Columbia have evicted surveyors working on a natural gas pipeline project from their territory, seized equipment and set up a roadblock against all pipeline activity.

A group identifying itself as the Unis'tot'en clan of the Wet'suwet'en Nation said surveyors for Apache Canada's Pacific Trails Pipeline were trespassing.

"The Unis'tot'en clan has been dead-set against all pipelines slated to cross through their territories, which include PTP (Pacific Trails Pipeline), Enbridge's Northern Gateway and many others," Freda Huson, a spokesperson for the group, said in a statement.

"As a result of the unsanctioned PTP work in the Unist'ot'en yintah, the road leading into the territory has been closed to all industry activities until further notice."

Huson was not available for further comment.

But according to a statement issued by the group Wednesday night, the surveyors were denied access to the territory Wednesday morning at a bridge crossing the Morice River, which runs through the Skeena region.

The group said once the surveyors were turned back, members retrieved materials that had been left behind Tuesday.

That equipment will be held until the company agrees to open up "appropriate lines of communication," said the group.

Company spokesman Paul Wyke confirmed that surveyors were asked to leave the area.

"We had some surveyors in the area last evening and they were asked to leave traditional territory by a small group of members from the Unis'tot'en, and they complied," Wyke said.

"We understand that there are some members of the Unis'tot'en that have expressed some concerns with the proposed PTP project, and we continue to consult with First Nations along the entire proposed pipeline right-of-way."

Wyke said the company will continue ongoing consultations with aboriginal groups. The project has the support of 15 of 16 aboriginal groups along the route, he said.

The blockading group said the province does not have the right to approve development on their traditional lands, which lie northwest of Kitimat, the future home of an Apache Canada liquefied natural gas plant and the tanker port for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

Officials with the Wet'suwet'en, a First Nation comprised of five clans — none of which is identified as the Unis'tot'en on their official website — did not return calls seeking comment.

The Wet'suwet'en have issued statements opposing the pipeline but discussions continue with the company.

British Columbia has become a battleground between oil and gas development and the rights of First Nations.

Many aboriginal groups whose traditional territories stand between the booming Alberta oil sands and ports that could take their product to Asia view court-recognized rights as a trump card to development projects.

The proposed Northern Gateway project, which would deliver diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to a tanker port in Kitimat, has taken the brunt of opposition, but critics of oil sands development and tanker activity off the B.C. coast are widening the scope of their dissent.

A proposal by Kinder Morgan to twin an existing oil pipeline from Alberta to the Vancouver area is also attracting opposition as the project moves toward a formal application.

The $1-billion Pacific Trails Pipeline would deliver natural gas from northern B.C. and Alberta to the LNG terminal for shipment overseas.

The pipeline, owned by Apache Corp., Encana (TSX:ECA) and EOG Resources, passed an environmental assessment in 2008. Construction was slated to begin this year and the pipeline is expected to be operational in 2015.

— By Dene Moore in Vancouver

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Northern Gateway President John Carruthers

    (Sept. 4) - Northern Gateway president John Carruthers argues the pipeline is just as important to Canada as the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Canadian Pacific Railway..."when constructed, [they] laid the foundation for significant benefits for generations of Canadians. Our project is no different."

  • Robert Mansell, U of C School of Public Policy

    (Sept. 4) - Robert Mansell, academic director of the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, argued the benefits the pipeline could have for Canada. "Just imagine a situation where, if not for Northern Gateway, you had shut in 525,000 barrels per day for one year. That loss works out to $40-million a day, or $14.4-billion per year," he said.

  • Leanne Chahley, lawyer for the Alta. Federation of Labour

    (Sept. 4) - Leanne Chahley, a lawyer for the Alberta Federation of Labour, questioned the estimated economic gains. "It's still a social science that you're involved in, economics. How much degree of certainty should we give it?"

  • Gil McGowan, Alta. Federation of Labour President

    (Sept. 4 ) - Albert a Federation of Labour argues the $6-billion line would mean 5% less refinery in Alberta and the loss of 8,000 jobs. "China is in the midst of a building boom in terms of refineries and refining capacity, so our fear is that if our policymakers allow this pipeline to be built we'll end up in a situation where our own homegrown refineries are no longer economic and they'll close down," federation president Gil McGowan said. "We'll end up in a situation where we're sending our raw bitumen oil to China and then buying back the refined product."

  • John Carruthers, Northern Gateway President

    (Sept. 4) - Northern Gateway president John Carruthers on the Enbridge's committment to environmental responsibility: "It involves assessing, in the same objective fashion, and according to the same standards, the information or evidence that has been presented by those who are opposed to the development of our project. And it culminates in approving the project under a framework of conditions that will promote reconciliation over division, and fact over rhetoric."

  • John Risdale, B.C. First Nations Chief

    (May 2012) - B.C. First Nations leaders travel to the step of the Alberta Legislature to voice their concerns on the environmental damage. "The pipeline route that they have proposed is following the most major river system that we have and when the river is ruined, the people are ruined, the land is ruined," said Hereditary Chief John Ridsdale of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.

  • Terry Lake, B.C. Environment Minister

    (Sept. 4) - B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake on how Enbridge plans to exceed world standards in spill prevention. "We certainly want to clarify with Enbridge some of the comments made over $500-million more of safety improvements and what exactly will that mean," Lake says. "In terms of monitoring, in terms of response capability, how can we ensure that any proponent would have to live up to what we consider world class response and mitigation measures."

  • Economist Robert Mansell, U Of C School Of Public Policy

    (Sept. 5) - <strong>On the chance that the proposed Nothern Gateway pipeline would have a negative effect on central Canada's manufacturing sector</strong>: "It is not credible that one could argue this would cause Dutch disease." "Would it do, as has been alleged -- cause the rate of inflation to go up and then force the monetary authorities to tighten the money supply and thereby shrink the economy? The answer is no. "Monetary policy is based on what's called the Core Inflation Rate, which excludes the price of food and energy."

  • Texas-Based Energy Consultant Muse Stancil

    (Sept. 5) - <strong>In a report submitted to the hearing, Texas-based energy consultant Muse Stancil said the Northern Gateway will have an effect on oil pricing in North America:</strong> "It can be expected to have a material effect on the distribution patterns and pricing dynamics for Western Canadian crude, as crude producers for the first time will have a high-volume alternative to their historical markets within North America," said the Muse Stancil report. "Northern Gateway allows the Canadian crude producers to both stop selling to their least attractive refiner clients (from a pricing prospective) and reduces their need to ship heavy crude via comparatively expensive rail transport."

  • Richard Johnston, UBC Political Scientist

    Sept. 5 - <strong>On the chance the federtal Tories could lose ground in B.C. due to unfriendly policies such as support of pipelines to the west coast:</strong> "Among the risks to their base, I would put Northern Gateway highest," Johnston said. "The risk/benefit ratio (for B.C.) is massively unfavourable in itself and if the government were to force the issue pre-emptively, they would add an additional dimension to the debate, singling out one province for ill-treatment, rather like the NEP and Alberta. I expect Conservative MPs are worrying about this aloud."

  • Elisabeth Graff, B.C. government lawyer

    (Sept. 7) - "Are you willing to acknowledge this is a complex organizational structure that limits the liability of a corporate giant that definitely would have sufficient funds?" she asked. "What we're left with is an entity which you tell us has the financial resources necessary to cover any type of spill, but we're still doubting whether that is possible." "No, I just fundamentally can't accept that," replied Mr. Carruthers. "Because of the investment, everyone would want to make sure there's proper funding available in case of a spill," he said.

  • Janet Holder, Enbridge senior executive

    (Sept. 7) - "We're doing everything in our power to mitigate against a spill." "Believe me, Enbridge doesn't want a spill. It's not what we're in the business for. We're in the business of moving very safely, environmentally sound and in a sustainable way, product from one spot to another."

  • Geoff Plant, B.C.'s head lawyer for the hearings

    (Sept. 7) - "The question [is] whether Enbridge is actually capable of getting the kind of insurance to ensure against the risk of liability," on whether the insurance is there should an oil spill happen.

  • Barry Robinson, lawyer for three environmental organizations

    (Sept. 8) - "If free market economies aren't at play, where's the economic benefit?" asked Robinson about the economic effects of the hypothetical possibility of Chinese interests buying control of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

  • Kelowna resident James MacGregor

    (Spet. 6) - The Avaaz petition <a href="http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Enbridges_Northern_Gateway_pipeline/?whtizcb" target="_hplink">"No Enbridge Tankers/Pipeline in BC Great Bear Rainforest"</a> was started by James MacGregor and has since passed 10,000 signatures. "BC's entire Great Bear Rainforest, its wildlife and the livelihoods of coastal First Nations are all at great risk if Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline is approved," he said. "I know I'm not the only one out there speaking up about the pipeline, but I felt like I couldn't sit back and do nothing." (Source: <a href="http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/petition-opposing-northern-gateway-pipeline-clears-10000-signatures" target="_hplink">Vancouver Observer</a>)

  • Hana Boye, lawyer for Haisla First Nation

    (Sept. 17) - On who could end up with ownership stakes: "If we don't know who these investors are, we're not able to determine if they're financially viable, if they're market-force driven or if it's in the interest of Canadians," she said.

  • Crystal Lake pipeline

  • Chris Peters, Engineer

    (Sept. 17)- Peters argues that an approval of the pipeline might mean a setback to Canada's national climate change policy aims to reduce such emissions to by 2020. That cost "should be recorded as a negative and a cost to the planet," said Peters.

  • Crystal Lake pipeline

  • Crystal Lake pipeline

  • trenton falls pipeline

  • Terry Lake, B.C. Environment Minister

    (Sept. 17) - In the worry that in the event of a spill, Enbridge won't have tge insurance to cover the clean-up costs: "Enbridge and Northern Gateway are very aware of that concern now, so we'll look to their response. But we've made it clear that taxpayers will not be left on the hook," Lake said. "I think that the company would argue they have the resources necessary. What British Columbians want to see is an ironclad guarantee that they do have the resources necessary, that the structure and the insurance in place will protect British Columbians from the cost of any adverse event," he added.