The following is part two of Northern Exposure, a three-part series that examines how a warming Arctic opens up the Northwest Passage and economic opportunities, but also creates headaches.
The 49-hour drive from FortisBC’s liquefied natural gas facility in Delta, British Columbia to Inuvik, Northwest Territories is not for the faint of heart as it winds through mountain passes and frequent avalanche zones.
Despite the 3,615-kilometre of distance and risks, trucks carrying liquefied natural gas from southern B.C. routinely make the arduous trip to supply the 3,000-person Inuvik, an Arctic outpost close to the Beaufort Sea, with fuel for power generation. An increasing number of remote communities in Canada’s northern region are using LNG as a power source as it’s cheaper and less emissions’ intensive than diesel, which is still widely used.
In the eyes of the Northwest Territories government and the energy industry, it’s painfully ironic that the Beaufort Sea contains an estimated 56 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 8 billion barrels of oil while remote communities such as Inuvik, Iqaluit and many more rely on LNG or diesel shipped in from southern Canada for power.
“We’re trucking LNG all the way from Delta to burn it in Inuvik,” Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod said, calling the situation a missed opportunity.
Inuvialuit Regional Corp. chair Duane Smith has in recent months called for development in the Beaufort Sea so that Inuvik and nearby Tuktoyaktuk could generate their own gas-fired power, rather than importing it all the way from southern B.C.