North

Inuvialuit seek federal dollars to study gas fields near Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is seeking federal funding to study the feasibility of developing gas fields along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway.

'The overall purpose is to try and generate energy security within the region,' says IRC CEO and chair

The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway is about 137 km long. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is hopeful a feasibility study will show that some gas fields near the road are economically viable. (Karen McColl)

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) is seeking federal funding to study the feasibility of developing gas fields along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway.

The IRC has long known about the fields, and is hopeful the new highway and advancements in technology will make the gas reserves more economical.

The IRC represents Inuvialuit from the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, and Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories.

"Right now the overall purpose is to try and generate energy security within the region," said Duane Smith, chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. "It make more sense to develop our resources within the region instead of trucking it 3,500 kilometres from B.C.

'It make more sense to develop our resources within the region instead of trucking it 3,500 kilometres from B.C.,' says Duane Smith, chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. (David Thurton/ CBC)

"Not only here, but other places across the territory are sitting on vast amounts of oil and gas reserves and very few of the communities actually generate energy from those when we could and should be."

The IRC, with help from the territorial government, applied to CanNor for federal funding last month.

Smith said there are five to seven sites near the highway with potential for development. He said some are on Crown land, while others are leased to private companies.

"We have been in communication with [the private companies] in regards to getting permission to obtain their data, as well as to access some of those fields," Smith said.

"The technology is evolving quite rapidly in regards to smaller plants that could produce these products for smaller communities like what we have in the Northwest Territories."

Smith is hoping to hear back from CanNor shortly. He said he would like work on the study to begin this summer.

"Now, it is the wait and see. Hopefully we will get this opportunity to at least just look at it," Smith said.

now