Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories

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Table of Contents
  • Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production

    Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production

    Source and Description:

    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2019

    This graph shows hydrocarbon production in NWT from 2008 to 2018. Over this period, crude oil production has decreased from 16.2 Mb/d to 1.7 Mb/d. Natural gas production has deceased from 18.0 MMcf/d to 1.4  MMcf/d.

  • Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2018)

    Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2018)

    Source and Description:

    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2019

    This pie chart shows electricity generation by source in NWT. A total of 0.4 TW.h of electricity was generated in 2018.

  • Figure 3: Electricity Capacity and Primary Fuel Sources Map

    Figure 3: Electricity Capacity and Primary Fuel Sources Map

    Source and Description:

    CER, Natural Resources Canada, Northwest Territories Power Corporation

    This map shows electricity generation facilities in NWT. Facilities are shown by capacity and by primary fuel source.

    PDF version [1746 KB]

  • Figure 4: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map

    Figure 4: Crude Oil Infrastructure Map

    Source and Description:


    This map shows all major crude oil pipelines in NWT.

    PDF version [340 KB]

  • Figure 5: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map

    Figure 5: Natural Gas Infrastructure Map

    Source and Description:


    This map shows all major natural gas pipelines in NWT

    PDF version [507 KB]

  • Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Sector (2017)

    Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Sector (2017)

  • Source and Description:

    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2019

    This pie chart shows end-use energy demand in NWT by sector. Total end-use energy demand was 21.3 PJ in 2017. The largest sector was industrial at 54% of total demand, followed by transportation (at 29%), commercial (at 12%), and lastly, residential (at 6%).

  • Figure 7: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2017)

    Figure 7: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2017)

    Source and Description:

    CER – Canada's Energy Future 2019

    This figure shows end-use demand by fuel type in NWT in 2017. Refined petroleum products accounted for 16.3 PJ (76%) of demand, followed by natural gas at 3.2 PJ (15%), electricity at 1.2 PJ (6%), biofuels at 0.6 PJ (3%), and other at 0.0 PJ.

    Note: "Other" includes coal, coke, and coke oven gas.

  • Figure 8: GHG Emissions by Sector

    Figure 8: GHG Emissions by Sector

    Source and Description:

    Environment and Climate Change Canada – National Inventory Report

    This stacked column graph shows GHG emissions in NWT by sector every five years from 1990 to 2017 in MT of CO2e. Total GHG emissions have decreased in NWT from 1.36 MT of CO2e in 2000 to 1.26 MT of CO2e in 2017.

Energy Production

Crude Oil

  • In 2018, Northwest Territories (NWT) produced 1.7 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) of light crude oil (Figure 1). All production is centered near Norman Wells.
  • NWT accounts for less than 0.1% of total Canadian crude oil production.
  • Several wells were drilled for shale gas and shale oil exploration in the Central Mackenzie Valley from 2012 to 2015, but no commercial production resulted. There has been no activity since 2015. In addition, no wells are currently planned or operating in other parts of NWT, including the Beaufort Sea.
  • In December 2016, the federal government announced that Canadian Arctic offshore, including areas offshore of Northwest Territories, is indefinitely off limits to new offshore oil and gas licensing to be reviewed every five years. The first five year review is due in 2021.
  • In 2019, the government issued an order, expiring at the end of 2021, prohibiting all oil and gas activities in the Canadian Arctic offshore, including activities associated with existing licenses. Also in 2019, the government announced that it will freeze the terms of existing licenses in the Arctic offshore to preserve existing rights.
  • 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 2018, natural gas production in NWT was 1.4 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 by-product 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 because of technical issues.
  • 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 2018, NWT generated about 0.35 terawatt hours (TW.h) of electricity (Figure 2), which is approximately 0.1% of total Canadian production. NWT has a generating capacity of 208 megawatts (MW).
  • Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) generates NWT’s electricity from hydro, fossil fuel, and other renewable sources. The major hydro generators include the Snare, Bluefish, and Taltson hydro systems.
  • Northland Utilities Ltd. also owns some electricity generation facilities in Hay River, Sambaa K’e, Fort Providence, and Wekweeti. Northland Utilities is a joint partnership between ATCO and Denendeh Investments Inc, which represents 27 Dene First Nations across NWT.
  • In normal precipitation years, approximately 75% of NWT’s electricity comes from hydroelectricity. In drier years, the territory relies on diesel generation to make up for the shortfall in precipitation. Diesel is the sole or primary electricity source for remote communities or industries that are not connected to one of NWT’s two hydro-based grids (Figure 3).
  • Wind energy provides approximately 4% 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 (GNWT) and Infrastructure Canada announced up to $40 million funding for the Inuvik Wind Project.
  • While solar provides less than 1% of NWT’s energy needs, 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. Since 2016, Colville Lake has been powered by a solar/battery and diesel hybrid system. The settlement located north of the Arctic Circle, with a population of approximately 160, 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.
  • The Inuvik natural gas power plant, which was supplied by the Ikhil gas field from 1999 to 2012, was restarted in November 2013 with LNG imported from Alberta and B.C. by truck. The 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.
  • The Government of NWT’s Draft 2030 Energy Strategy proposed the installation of wind turbines in Inuvik to reduce reliance on diesel generation. The report also proposed the installation of wind turbines and solar panels in other, smaller communities, and the connection of Fort Providence, Kakisa, and Whati to Yellowknife’s hydroelectric grid.

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 4). This CER-regulated pipeline has a current capacity of about 15 Mb/d but only transported 3 Mb/d in 2018 and 2019.
  • 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.

Natural Gas

  • Enbridge’s BC Pipeline (also known as Westcoast) 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, British Columbia (B.C.) gas processing plant (Figure 5). This portion of the pipeline is currently not in operation.
  • 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 Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of ATCO, and a subsidiary of AltaGas. In December 2018, Inuvik Gas gave the town of Inuvik notice that it is concluding its involvement in the distribution of gas in the town, and will work over the next 24 months to transition to a new supplier.
  • The Mackenzie Gas Project 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 under current North American market conditions.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

  • Inuvik receives LNG via truck from the FortisBC small-scale Tilbury Island LNG facility near Vancouver, B.C. This LNG is used by Northwest Territories Power Corporation’s Inuvik LNG facility, which began operation in 2013 and was constructed to displace standby electricity from a diesel generator.
  • There are no existing or proposed large-scale LNG facilities in NWT.


  • 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 Snare Grid north of Great Slave Lake, and the Taltson Grid south of Great Slave Lake. 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 21.3 petajoules (PJ) in 2017. The largest sector for energy demand was industrial at 54% of total demand, followed by transportation at 29%, commercial at 12%, and residential at 6% (Figure 6). 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 16.3 PJ, or 76%. Natural gas and electricity accounted for 3.2 PJ (15%) and 1.2 PJ (6%), respectively (Figure 7).

Refined Petroleum Products

  • Virtually all of the gasoline consumed in NWT is produced in neighbouring provinces (primarily Alberta) and transported to NWT by truck and by rail.
  • Total 2018 demand for RPPs in NWT was 5.6 Mb/d, or 0.3% of total Canadian RPP demand. Of NWT’s demand, 3.6 Mb/d was for diesel and 0.6 Mb/d was for gasoline.
  • NWT’s per capita RPP consumption in 2018 was 7 378 litres (46 barrels), the highest in Canada. NWT’s RPP consumption per capita is 143% above the national average of 3 038 litres per capita.
  • A significant portion of NWT’s demand for diesel fuel is for power generation. Diesel-based power plants accounted for 55% of NWT’s total installed power capacity in 2018.
  • 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.

Natural Gas

  • In 2018, NWT consumed an average of 3.3 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 at 3.3 MMcf/d.


  • In 2017, annual electricity consumption per capita in NWT was 7.4 megawatt hours (MW.h). NWT ranked second last for per capita electricity consumption and consumed 49% less than the national average.
  • NWT’s largest consuming sector for electricity in 2017 was commercial at 0.21 TW.h. The residential and industrial sectors consumed 0.12 TW.h and 0.01 TW.h, respectively. NWT’s electricity demand has increased 7% since 2005.
  • Because of its low population density and expensive generation costs, NWT has among the highest electricity rates in the country reaching approximately 30 cents per .h, although rates vary across communities and utility company.
  • Inuvik has been using LNG to power one of its power plants since 2013. NWT plans to displace diesel with increased LNG usage, which would reduce GHG emissions by around 25%.

GHG Emissions

  • NWT’s GHG emissions in 2017 were 1 260 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) Footnote 1. NWT’s GHG emissions have decreased 15% since 2000, the first full year after part of NWT became Nunavut.
  • NWT’s emissions per capita are the highest in the northern territories at 28.1 tonnes CO2e – 43 % above the Canadian average of 19.6 tonnes per capita.
  • The largest emitting sectors in NWT are transportation at 57% of emissions, industries and manufacturing at 25%, buildings (residential and service industry) at 11%, and electricity at 5% (Figure 8).
  • NWT’s GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector in 2017 were 0.02 MT CO2e, attributable to crude oil and natural gas production.
  • In 2017, NWT’s power sector emitted 0.1 MT CO2e emissions, which represents about 0.1% of Canadian emissions from power generation.
  • NWT’s Net Metering Program allows electricity customers to generate their own electricity (up to 15 kW) from renewable energy sources, and to accumulate energy credits monthly for any excess energy they produce to be used against those months when their usage exceeds their production.
  • 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 by more than 100 tonnes per year.

More Information

Data Sources

Provincial & Territorial Energy Profiles aligns with CER’s latest Canada’s Energy Future 2019 datasets. Energy Future uses a variety of data sources, generally starting with Statistics Canada data as the foundation, and making adjustments depending on individual province/territory circumstances.  Adjustments are necessary to ensure consistency and comparability across provinces/territories.

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