N.W.T. power corp's Aklavik plant brings in cheaper fuel than local supplier

The price of fuel has increased so much in Aklavik, N.W.T., that the Northwest Territories Power Corporation has resorted to bringing in its own fuel rather than purchasing from the local supplier.

Local prices rose after Beaufort Delta Petroleum Ltd. took over supplying hamlet in August

In September the Northwest Territories Power Corporation had its tanks waiting on the town docks in Inuvik, ready to go to Aklavik in case it wasn't able to negotiate a suitable price with Beaufort Delta Petroleum for diesel. (CBC)

The price of fuel has increased so much in Aklavik, N.W.T., that the Northwest Territories Power Corporation has resorted to bringing in its own fuel rather than purchasing from the local supplier.

"It just goes to show there are cheaper prices out there," said the hamlet's mayor Charlie Furlong.

In August the new local supplier, Beaufort Delta Petroleum, took over from Imperial Oil and raised the price of gas to $1.84 a litre from about $1.59. Diesel also increased to $1.77 a litre from $1.29.

"It's still the homeowners and the hunters and trappers who are suffering because of these high prices," Furlong said.

This week NTPC confirmed to CBC News that it brought its own diesel into Aklavik after it failed to agree on a suitable price with Beaufort Delta Petroleum.

"NTPC has an onsite fuel supply that will last until the winter road opens, when additional fuel can be trucked in to the community," a spokesperson for the power corporation wrote in an email.

NTPC didn't say how much it cost to bring its own fuel into the community. However, the GNWT's Fuel Services Division, formerly known as the Petroleum Products Division, says it purchased diesel for NTPC in early fall at a $1.13 a litre for use at its Inuvik power plant.

NTPC also sought permission from the division to relocate a "quantity" of fuel from Inuvik.

Despite the hitting a road block, the power corporation says it's still in discussions with Beaufort Delta Petroleum to negotiate a fuel supply that would "provide savings to our customers."

Beaufort Delta Petroleum is an Edmonton-based company. Mark Gardhouse and Patrick Schmidt are listed as the company's directors. Gardhouse is the president and CEO of Norterra, while Schmidt is the president of Northern Transportation Company Limited, also a subsidiary of Norterra. The Inuvialuit Development Corporation owns Norterra.

Despite repeated requests for an interview, Beaufort Delta Petroleum declined to comment.

Meanwhile the Hamlet of Aklavik is calling on the territorial government to intervene to help curb high fuel prices in the community.

"We've put in a letter to the territorial government also with a petition with well over 100 signatures asking the territorial government to look at how they could assist Aklavik through subsidies or whatever mechanisms they have for other communities," Furlong said. 

The Fuel Services Division says the territorial government cannot intervene in communities where there's a private supplier. It also doesn't subsidize fuel in the 16 communities it serves. The fuel is sold at-cost, it says.

"It's a self-funding program. The Petroleum Products Revolving Funds Act, under which we operate, requires that we recover the operating costs from the sale of the product," said John Vandenberg, the assistant deputy minister of Public Works and Services.

"The Petroleum Products Division can't use funds to subsidize communities."


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