Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – Northwest Territories
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Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production
Source and Description:
This graph shows hydrocarbon production in NWT from 2010 to 2020. Over this period, crude oil production has decreased from 15.1 Mb/d to 6.4 Mb/d. Natural gas production has deceased from 18.7 MMcf/d to 4.9 MMcf/d.
Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2019)
Source and Description:
This pie chart shows electricity generation by source in NWT. A total of 0.72 TW.h of electricity was generated in 2019.
Figure 3: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map
Source and Description:
This map shows all major crude oil pipelines in NWT.
PDF version [736 KB]
Figure 4: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map
Source and Description:
This map shows all natural gas pipelines in NWT.
PDF version [795 KB]
Figure 5: End-Use Demand by Sector (2019)
Source and Description:
This pie chart shows end-use energy demand in NWT by sector. Total end-use energy demand was 20.8 PJ in 2018. The largest sector was industrial at 46% of total demand, followed by transportation (at 34%), commercial (at 13%), and lastly, residential (at 7%).
Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2019)
Source and Description:
This figure shows end-use demand by fuel type in NWT in 2018. Refined petroleum products accounted for 15.4 PJ (74%) of demand, followed by natural gas at 4.2 PJ (20%), electricity at 1.1 PJ (5%), biofuels at 0.2 PJ (1%), and other at 0.0 PJ.
Note: "Other" includes coal, coke, and coke oven gas.
Figure 7: GHG Emissions by Sector
Source and Description:
This stacked column graph shows GHG emissions in NWT by sector every five years from 1990 to 2019 in MT of CO2e. Total GHG emissions have decreased in NWT from 1.54 MT of CO2e in 2000 to 1.38 MT of CO2e in 2019.
Figure 8: Emissions Intensity from Electricity Generation
Source and Description:
This column graph shows the emissions intensity of electricity generation in NWT from 1990 to 2019. In 1990, electricity generated in NWT emitted 280 g of CO2e per kWh. By 2019, emissions intensity decreased to 200 g of CO2e per kWh.
- In 2020, the Northwest Territories (NWT) produced 6.4 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) of light crude oil (Figure 1). All production is from the Norman Wells Proven Area near the town of Norman Wells in the central Mackenzie Valley.
- NWT accounts for less than 0.1% of total Canadian crude oil production.
- Several exploratory wells were drilled for shale gas and shale oil exploration in the Central Mackenzie Valley from 2012 to 2015. There has been no activity since 2015. In addition, no wells are currently planned or operating in other parts of NWT, including the federal waters of the Beaufort Sea.
- In 1986, oil production from an extended flow test took place at the Amauligak discovery in the Beaufort Sea. The 316 000 barrels of crude oil were transported to Japan by tanker.
- In December 2016, the federal government announced that Canadian Arctic offshore, including the federal waters offshore of NWT, are indefinitely off limits to new offshore oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years. The first five-year review was due late 2021, but the science-based review work was delayed. The federal government, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Governments of Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut are developing assessments to be reviewed in 2022.
- In 2019, the federal government issued an order, with the expiration extended to the end of 2022, prohibiting all oil and gas activities in the Canadian Arctic offshore, including activities associated with existing licences. This order was amended on 21 December 2021 to extend it until 31 December 2022, to accommodate the completion of the scientific reviews. In the same year, the federal government announced that it would freeze the terms of existing licences in the Arctic offshore to preserve existing rights.
- The federal government returned $430 million in security deposits to oil and gas companies that had active Exploration Licences. After 31 December 2022, offshore licence holders will have the option to pay the licence deposit again or surrender the licence.
- Discussions regarding the review are ongoing between and the Governments of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Canada, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
- NWT’s crude oil resources are estimated at 1.2 billion barrels.
Refined Petroleum Products (RPPs)
- There are no refineries in NWT.
Natural Gas/Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)
- In 2020, natural gas production in NWT was 4.9 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) (Figure 1). This represented less than 0.1% of total Canadian natural gas production.
- Natural gas is produced in two areas of NWT: Norman Wells and Ikhil, with Normal Wells accounting for the majority of the production. Natural gas has historically been produced at Cameron Hills in southern NWT, but production was suspended in 2015 for economic reasons.
- Natural gas production from Imperial Oil’s Norman Wells is a byproduct of oil production, and the gas is used to generate electricity for the town of Norman Wells. Norman Wells began producing in the 1920s.
- Natural gas production at Norman Wells was suspended in early 2017 in response to Imperial suspending oil production in the region. Production of crude oil and natural gas resumed in October 2018, following the restart of Enbridge’s Norman Wells Pipeline (Line 21).
- Natural gas production from Ikhil began in 1999 to supply gas to the town of Inuvik. Currently, the Ikhil field only provides back-up natural gas supply to imported LNG.
- The Inuvialuit Energy Security Project was proposed to start producing natural gas in the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula from the Tuk M-18 well.
- Southern NWT is estimated to have 48 trillion cubic feet of recoverable, sales-quality natural gas resources, mostly shale gas in the Liard Basin.
- There is currently no NGL production in NWT.
- In 2019, NWT generated about 0.72 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity (Figure 2), which is approximately 0.1% of total Canadian production. This includes electricity generated by communities and at industrial sites. NWT has an estimated generating capacity of 217 megawatts (MW).
- The Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) generates NWT’s electricity from hydro, fossil fuel, and renewable sources. The major hydro generators include the Snare, Bluefish, and Taltson hydro systems.
- The Northwest Territories has a fragmented system for power generation and three main energy sources are used to generate electricity: water (hydro power), diesel, and natural gas. Eight communities use hydroelectricity serviced by two hydrogrids. The remaining 25 communities rely on diesel-fired power plants.
- In 2019, 46.8% of NWT’s electricity came from hydroelectricity and 37.2% came from petroleum.
- Northland Utilities Ltd. has offices in Hay River and Yellowknife. Hay River services Kakisa, Dory Point, Fort Providence, Sambaa K’e, Wekweeti, Hay River, Enterprise and the K’at’lodeeche First Nation. The Yellowknife office provides services to Yellowknife and N’Dilo. Northland Utilities is a joint partnership between ATCO and Denendeh Investments Inc., which represents 27 Dene First Nations across NWT.
- The Inuvik natural gas plant, which was supplied by the Ikhil gas field from 1999 to 2012, was restarted in January 2014 with LNG imported from Alberta and British Columbia (B.C.) by truck. A second Inuvik plant runs on diesel. NTPC is evaluating the potential to supply other NWT communities on the road system with LNG, to fuel local generators along with diesel.
- Wind energy provides approximately 2% of NWT’s energy needs. In 2013, the Diavik Diamond Mine installed four wind turbines with a capacity of 9.2 MW to provide electricity for their primarily diesel-based microgrid at Lac de Gras.
- In November 2018, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Infrastructure Canada announced up to $40 million funding for the Inuvik Wind Project. In February 2022, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced that construction of the project had started, with completion expected in 2023.
- While solar generated less than 1% of NWT’s energy needs in 2019, several solar projects are in operation.
- A 100 kilowatt (kW) solar array in Fort Simpson, the largest solar system in northern Canada, was installed in 2012.
- Colville Lake has been powered by a solar/battery and diesel hybrid system since 2016. The settlement, located north of the Arctic Circle, previously relied entirely on diesel-fired generation. The diesel was delivered via winter roads at an annual cost of $140 000.
- New solar power facilities were installed in Fort Liard and Wrigley in 2016, and in Aklavik in 2017.
- In 2021, the federal Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative awarded $800 000 to Nihtat Energy Ltd. to fund two solar projects near Inuvik.
- NWT’s Net Metering Program allows electricity customers to generate their own electricity (up to 15 kW) from renewable energy sources and accumulate energy credits monthly for any excess energy they produce, to be used against those months when their usage exceeds their production.
- The Government of NWT’s 2030 Energy Strategy is being implemented along with the Climate Change Strategic Framework (CCSF) and the NWT Carbon Tax. One of the strategic objectives of the 2030 Energy Strategy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in diesel communities by 25%. Funding has been allocated to the Fort Providence-Kakisa Transmission Line and the Inuvik Wind Project, a 3.5 MW wind turbine, will reduce diesel consumption in off-grid communities.
- The Government of the NWT is working on the Taltson Hydroelectric Expansion Project with the goal of expanding the capacity of the existing Taltson generating station and connecting the Northwest Territories’ hydroelectric systems to provide clean energy to the industry.
Energy Transportation and Trade
Crude Oil and Liquids
- The Norman Wells Pipeline transports crude oil production from NWT and northwest Alberta to Zama, Alberta (Figure 3). This CER-regulated pipeline has a current capacity of about 16 Mb/d but only transported 6.6 Mb/d in 2020.
- In November 2016, the Norman Wells Pipeline was shut-in because of safety concerns regarding slope stability on the south bank of the Mackenzie River. As a result, production at Norman Wells was suspended. A 2.5 kilometre (km) section of the pipeline under the Mackenzie River was replaced in 2018. The pipeline resumed operation in October 2018.
- There are no crude-by-rail facilities in NWT. However, a rail terminal at Hay River receives RPPs, such as gasoline and diesel, from Alberta. These RPPs are delivered to communities in NWT and Nunavut via barges that travel along Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River, and the Beaufort Sea.
- Enbridge's Westcoast pipeline (also known as Enbridge B.C. pipeline) originates in the southwestern corner of NWT and connects the Liard Basin in southwestern NWT and the Kotaneelee field in southeastern Yukon to the Fort Nelson, B.C., gas processing plant (Figure 4). This portion of the pipeline is currently not in operation. This section of pipeline connects with NorthRiver Midstream’s gas gathering pipelines in northeast B.C.
- A 50 km pipeline connects Ikhil gas field to the town of Inuvik. Most of the pipeline is regulated by the CER under the Oil and Gas Operations Act.
- The current local distribution company in Inuvik is Inuvik Gas, which is regulated by the Northwest Territories Public Utilities Board (PUB). Inuvik Gas is owned equally by: the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation; ATCO Midstream NWT Ltd., a subsidiary of ATCO Energy Solutions Ltd.; and TriSummit Utilities Inc.
- The Mackenzie Gas Project [Folder 338535] was cancelled in December 2017 by project participants Imperial Oil, ConocoPhillips Canada, ExxonMobil Canada, and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. The proposed project involved the development of gas fields in the Mackenzie Delta and the construction of a 1 200 km gas pipeline (the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline) that would extend from the Mackenzie Delta to the Alberta-NWT border. The project was considered not economically feasible [Document A77339-1].
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
- Inuvik receives LNG via truck from the Campus Energy LNG facility in Dawson Creek, B.C. This LNG is used by Northwest Territories Power Corporation’s Inuvik LNG facility, which began operation in 2013 and was constructed to supply the Inuvik Gas plower plant and to displace electricity produced by diesel generators.
- In December 2021, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation was approved for a grant to install a third LNG tank at the Inuvik power plant, which will allow the community to rely less on diesel and generate most of its electricity from readily available LNG.
- The Inuvialuit Energy Security Project announced plans to produce natural gas in the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula from the Tuk M-18 well. If the project is approved, a plant on the well site would convert the natural gas to LNG which would be trucked to for use locally.
- NTPC distributes electricity to end-use customers in 26 of the 33 communities across 565 km of transmission lines and 375 km of distribution lines.
- Northland Utilities Ltd. also distributes electricity to Yellowknife, N’Dilo, Hay River, Sambaa K’e, Kakisa, Dory Point, Fort Providence, Wekweeti, Enterprise and K’at’lodeeche.
- Because of long distances from populated areas to neighbouring provinces and territories, there are no transmission lines to enable the trade of electricity between NWT and other jurisdictions.
- There are two regional electricity grids in NWT: the North Slave (Snare Grid) and South Slave (Taltson Grid) regions. Both grids are connected to NWT’s hydroelectric supply, but do not connect with each other. Additionally, there are 20 independent systems.
- PUB is the electricity regulator.
Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
Total Energy Consumption
- End-use demand in NWT was 18 petajoules (PJ) in 2019. The largest sector for energy demand was industrial at 44% of total demand, followed by transportation at 40%, commercial at 10%, and residential at 6% (Figure 5). NWT’s total energy demand was the third smallest in Canada, and the third largest on a per capita basis.
- RPPs were the largest fuel type consumed in NWT, accounting for 13.8 PJ, or 77% of total end-use demand. Natural gas and electricity accounted for 3 PJ (17%) and 1.1 PJ (6%), respectively (Figure 6).
Refined Petroleum Products
- NWT’s motor gasoline demand in 2019 was 1 202 litres per capita, 5% below the national average of 1 268 litres per capita.
- NWT’s diesel demand in 2019 was 4 822 litres per capita, more than five times the national average of 855 litres per capita.
- Virtually all the gasoline consumed in NWT is produced in neighbouring provinces (primarily Alberta) and transported to NWT by truck and by rail.
- A significant portion of NWT’s demand for diesel fuel is for space heating and power generation. Diesel-based power plants accounted for 55% of NWT’s total installed power capacity in 2019.
- NWT’s sparse population and limited transportation infrastructure limits the supply and increases the cost of heating and transportation fuels. The territorial government’s Fuel Services Department oversees the purchase, transport, distribution, and storage of fuels for 16 communities not served by private companies and for 20 communities on behalf of the NTPC.
- In 2020, NWT consumed an average of 16.4 MMcf/d of natural gas, which represented less than 1% of total Canadian demand.
- The only consuming sector for natural gas in NWT was the industrial sector.
- In 2019, annual electricity consumption per capita in NWT was 6.8 megawatt-hours (MWh). NWT ranked second last for per capita electricity consumption and consumed 55% less than the national average.
- NWT’s largest consuming sector for electricity in 2019 was commercial at 0.19 TWh. The residential and industrial sectors consumed 0.11 TWh and 0.01 TWh, respectively.
- As a result of its low population density and expensive generation costs, NWT has among the highest electricity rates in the country, reaching over 30 cents per kWh, although rates vary across communities and utility companies.
- NWT’s GHG emissions in 2019 were 1.38 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT CO2e).Footnote 1 NWT’s GHG emissions have decreased 15.7% since 2000, the first full year after part of NWT became Nunavut. Emissions have decreased 16% since 2005.
- NWT’s emissions per capita are the highest in the northern territories at 30.57 tonnes CO2e per capita, 57% above the Canadian average of 19.4 tonnes per capita.
- The largest emitting sectors in NWT are transportation at 62% of emissions, industries and manufacturing at 20%, buildings (residential and service industry) at 10%, and oil and gas at 4% (Figure 7).
- NWT’s GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector in 2019 were 0.06 MT CO2e, attributable to crude oil and natural gas production.
- In 2019, NWT’s power sector emitted 73 000 tonnes of CO2e, which represents about 0.1% of Canadian emissions from power generation.
- The greenhouse gas intensity of NWT’s electricity grid, measured as the GHGs emitted in the generation of the territory’s electric power, was 200 grams of CO2e per kilowatt-hour (g of CO2e/kWh) in 2019. This is a 29% reduction from the territory’s 2005 level of 280 g of CO2e/kWh. The national average in 2019 was 120 g of CO2e/kWh (Figure 8).
- NTPC developed residual heat recovery systems in its diesel power plants in Fort Liard and Fort McPherson, reducing demand for heating oil in these communities and reducing GHG emissions. In Fort McPherson, the system avoided the consumption of over 1.6 million litres of diesel fuel, and over 4 500 tonnes of GHG emissions over the past decade.
- Government of Northwest Territories: 2020-2021 Energy Initiatives Report
- Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics: Oil and Gas Production
- Government of Northwest Territories: Industry, Tourism and Investment
- Government of Northwest Territories: Retail Fuel Prices
- Northwest Territories Public Utilities Board
- Northwest Territories Power Corporation: Current Alternative Energy Projects
- CER–Canada's Renewable Power: Northwest Territories
- CER–Market Snapshot: Overcoming the challenges of powering Canada’s off-grid communities
- CER–Market Snapshot: Northern Canada rich in natural gas resources, but current production continues to decline
- CER–Market Snapshot: Explaining the high cost of power in northern Canada
Provincial & Territorial Energy Profiles aligns with the CER’s latest Canada’s Energy Future 2021 datasets. Energy Futures uses a variety of data sources, generally starting with Statistics Canada data as the foundation, and making adjustments to ensure consistency across all provinces and territories.
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