Inuvialuit set sights on local natural gas to break away from imported diesel, propane
'It has huge potential for employment within the region, development of our own reserves,' says IRC chair
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation has secured funds to begin a feasibility study into natural gas development in the N.W.T.'s Beaufort Delta region.
Duane Smith, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), said tapping into local natural gas would have wide-ranging benefits.
"It has huge potential for employment within the region, development of our own reserves and resources around here as well as reducing long-term inefficient sources that the region now has to bring in from British Columbia."
Inuvik used to get its energy from two natural gas wells, but output has diminished over the years and the town now depends on diesel and propane from about 2,500 kilometres away in southern Canada.
The IRC is leading the feasibility study.
"This Indigenous-owned corporation seeks to lower living costs for local residents and businesses by securing a regional energy source to replace diesel," said a news release from CanNor.
"Should natural gas extraction be viable, the development of this resource could provide clean energy security, employment opportunities, and support a sustainable economic future in the Inuvialuit region."
"It would create permanent long-term jobs for different areas, different fields, " Smith said. "Those positions would remain within the region and the communities."
Smith said the project will take about a year to complete and will be split into two phases: the first will focus on well sites located near the new Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway; the second phase will look at the cost of development and how to transport the gas to communities in the Beaufort Delta region.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, or CanNor, has invested $467,200 over two years for the $584,000 project. The Government of the Northwest Territories and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation each invested $58,400.
A request for proposals recently closed for the study.
With files from Mackenzie Scott