North

NEB and GNWT study finds 200 billion barrels of oil in the Sahtu

The NEB and the N.W.T. Geological Survey conducted a joint study in the Canol and Bluefish shale fields near Norman Wells and Tulita.

Joint report evaluated the Canol and Bluefish shale fields near Norman Wells and Tulita

ConocoPhillips drilled two exploratory horizontal wells near Norman Wells, N.W.T., in early 2014. A joint study by the National Energy Board and Government of the Northwest Territories found that there could be nearly 200 billion barrels of shale oil in the N.W.T.'s Sahtu Region. (CBC)

The National Energy Board and the Northwest Territories government estimate there's close to 200 billion barrels of oil in the Sahtu region of the territory.

They evaluated the Canol and Bluefish shale fields near Norman Wells and Tulita.

The groups conducted a joint study near Norman Wells and Tulita: "Assessment of Unconventional Petroleum Resources of the Bluefish Shale and the Canol Shale in the Northwest Territories" — the first publicly-released study about how much oil could be in the ground there.

It found more drilling is needed to determine if the deposits are commercially viable. 

Oil and gas analyst Doug Matthews says the results sound promising.

"If they can extract three per cent [of 200 billion barrels], they are roughly the equivalent of the Bakken play in North Dakota, which is a world-class play. So these are potentially very significant resources. Three per cent is quite reasonable." 

Matthews says the biggest challenge is how to get oil to market. He says that poor infrastructure, paired with high operating costs, makes the area unattractive to investors.

The low price of oil is also affecting exploration. None of the companies with exploration licences in the Sahtu has plans to do work there in the next few years.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.