Fort Providence man pitches natural gas pipeline for N.W.T.

Richard Lafferty has been pitching a plan to government for over a decade to bring natural gas to communities and industrial projects, using a pipeline that would run all the way from Alberta to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. He says the time to make the switch is now.
Richard Lafferty wants the N.W.T. government to invest in his plan to build a pipeline from northern Alberta to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. 'We're sitting on a mountain of energy and they're drilling and piping oil out of the North, refining it and trucking it back to us. That's the most bizarre thing I can imagine when we have it right under our feet.' (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A Métis man from Fort Providence wants to help reduce the cost of power in the Northwest Territories.

Richard Lafferty has been pitching a plan to government for over a decade to bring natural gas to communities and industrial projects, and as the cost of power continues to rise, he says right now is a good time to make the switch.

Lafferty's plan begins in the Cameron Hills on the Alberta, N.W.T. border, which he says holds enough natural gas to provide decades of power. (Jacob Barker/CBC)
"We hear in the media constantly that they want to increase the power rates because the cost of fuel is going up,” he says. “Well I say we can drop power rates dramatically and save hundreds of millions of dollars annually as opposed to adding more cost."

Lafferty says there is likely decades of natural gas in the Cameron Hills south of Hay River, N.W.T., where it's already being produced, and there's a well with 16 trillion cubic feet of gas in a well near Tuktoyaktuk.

“We're sitting on a mountain of energy and they're drilling and piping oil out of the North, Refining it and trucking it back to us. That's the most bizarre thing I can imagine when we have it right under our feet.”

Lafferty’s plan would see a pipeline begin at Steen River, Alta., linking the territory to the North American grid. The pipeline would follow existing highways and right-of-ways to eventually connect to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Lafferty would use modern pipelines that have been tested in space. (Jacob Barker/CBC)
He says he would use modern pipes which are safe, easily laid and have even been tested in space.

"For our application, it's really safety overkill but why not be more secure than question whether a steel pipeline or a traditional pipeline would do the job. This has an incredible track record."

Government wants more detail

Despite all of his efforts, he has yet to get a commitment from government to go ahead with the plan.

Dave Nightingale, the territory’s director of energy planning, says the government is interested in bringing natural gas to communities, but they want more detail from Lafferty

"You need access to financing and how's it going to get financing and again, that's an industry role," Nightingale says. "I think there's some regulatory questions that would need to be resolved."

Lafferty says the challenges aren't insurmountable.

He says a big step to help him get financing would be for government to commit to using natural gas.

At the annual Alaska Oil and Gas Congress in Anchorage this week, Premier Bob McLeod said the government is planning to use LNG in all communities that have road access, now that Inuvik has successfully pioneered the use of LNG hauled by truck from Delta, B.C.

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