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How feasible for northern Indigenous community to switch to natural gas?

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Natural gas Ed Darack/Getty Images

Town depends on diesel, propane from more than 2,500 km away

Many remote northern Canada communities rely upon diesel to generate their electricity, but the federal government hopes to transition them to cleaner forms of energy, such as natural gas.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for CanNor announced an investment of $467,200 to support a feasibility study to assess the potential for natural gas development in the Beaufort Delta region of the Northwest Territories, according to a press release.

“Clean energy study offers the potential of reducing dependency on diesel fuel. Natural gas projects lead to energy security, healthier communities, and a cleaner environment. Our government will continue to invest in clean energy projects that foster better jobs and improve living standards for Northerners,” said Bains.

The study will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will assess resource viability, and develop a local energy supply and distribution model with the focus on Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic and Tuktoyaktuk.

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The second phase will explore a regional model including Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok.

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) is leading this project. This Indigenous-owned corporation seeks to lower living costs for local residents and businesses by securing a regional energy source to replace diesel.

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.

Until recently, the Town of Inuvik received energy from two natural gas wells in the area; however, due to recent signs of depletion, the town now depends on diesel and propane from southern Canada, more than 2,500 km away.

“Communities in the Northwest Territories rely on imported diesel. The Government of Canada’s investment in the natural gas feasibility study in the Beaufort Delta region demonstrates the government’s commitment to fostering clean energy growth and sustainable northern economic diversification.  I look forward to seeing the work of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation upon completion of this project,” said Michael McLeod Member of Parliament, Northwest Territories.

The opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk all-season highway this autumn will provide access to the Inuvialuit-owned land with natural gas potential.

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