The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) is set to start developing the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in the Inuvialuit Settlement region with the support of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT).
IRC chair Duane Smith said a feasibility study was undertaken to assess the opportunity for resource development along the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway.
“The study examined a number of sites, and depending on the different scenarios, we think that there’s potential for development of one or more of these potential wells,” said Smith. “We’re looking at a couple of the wells that have more potential than others, and these ones have 100 year, if not longer lifespan forecasted in them.”
Smith said it is important to get started on development as soon as possible because Inuvik’s current source of natural gas, the Ikhil well, is running on borrowed time – five years past its projected lifespan.
“We’re sitting on nine trillion cubic feet of gas, so it doesn’t make sense for the community to truck in its energy sources from 2,000 km away when it should be developed here,” said Smith. “We would rather start this sooner than later, because we see the benefits that will come to each of the communities that we would provide service for.”
Smith said the development will potentially provide fuel and employment opportunities for all communities in the Beaufort Delta region.
Before IRC can move forward, they need to gain support for the project from the federal government as well as other partners such as the Northwest Territories Power Corporation.
Premier Bob McLeod said the GNWT is supportive of the development of gas resources in the region.
“We have to use our own resources in our own territory,” said McLeod.
Wally Schumann, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, and minister of Infrastructure, echoed the premier’s sentiment.
“Nobody is coming to fix the problem, so if we’re going to fix the problem, we have to fix it ourselves,” said Schumann. “This is the start of the answer to a lot of our problems.”