Provincial and Territorial Energy Profiles – Northwest Territories

Table of Contents
  • Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production

    Figure 1: Hydrocarbon Production

    Source and Description:

    NEB (Crude oil, natural gas)

    This graph shows hydrocarbon production in NWT from 2006 to 2016. Over this period, crude oil production has decreased from 18.7 Mb/d to 9 Mb/d. Natural gas production has deceased from 25.4 MMcf/d to 7.9 MMcf/d.

  • Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2016)

    Figure 2: Electricity Generation by Fuel Type (2016)

    Source and Description:


    This pie chart shows electricity generation by source in NWT. A total of 0.7 TW.h of electricity was generated in 2016.

  • Figure 3: Electricity Capacity and Primary Fuel Sources Map

    Figure 3: Electricity Capacity and Primary Fuel Sources Map

    Source and Description:

    NEB, 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 (2015)

    Figure 6: End-Use Demand by Sector (2015)

    Source and Description:


    This pie chart shows end-use energy demand in NWT by sector. Total end-use energy demand was 21.4 PJ in 2015. The largest sector was industrial at 54 % of total demand, followed by transportation (at 23 %), commercial (at 12 %), and lastly, residential (at 11 %).

  • Figure 7: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2015)

    Figure 7: End-Use Demand by Fuel (2015)

    Source and Description:


    This figure shows end-use demand by fuel type in NWT in 2015. Refined petroleum products accounted for 16.3 PJ (76 %) of demand, followed by natural gas at 2.5 PJ (12 %), electricity at 1.9 PJ (9 %), and biofuels at 0.8 PJ (4 %).

  • Figure 8: GHG Emissions by Sector (2015)

    Figure 8: GHG Emissions by Sector (2015)

    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 2000 to 2015 in MT of CO2e. Total GHG emissions have increased in NWT from 1.50 MT of CO2e in 1990 to 1.44 MT of CO2e in 2015.

Energy Production

Crude Oil

  • In 2016, Northwest Territories (NWT) produced 8.8 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) of light crude oil (Figure 1). All production is centred near Norman Wells.
  • NWT accounts for 0.3% 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.

Refined Petroleum Products (RPPs)

  • There are no refineries in NWT.

Natural Gas/Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs)

  • In 2016, natural gas production in NWT was 8.0 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) (Figure 1). This represented less than 1% of total Canadian natural gas production.
  • Natural gas is produced in two areas of NWT: Norman Wells and Ikhil. 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 Norman Wells is a by-product of oil production, and the gas is used to generate electricity for the town of Norman Wells.
  • 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 because of technical issues.
  • NWT’s resource base for natural gas has been estimated by the NEB to be 16.4 trillion cubic feet. This estimate includes the Arctic Islands and Beaufort Sea.
  • There is currently no NGL production in NWT.

Electricity and Renewables

  • In 2016, NWT generated about 0.7 terawatt hours (TW.h) of electricity (Figure 2), which is approximately 0.1% of total Canadian production. NWT has a generating capacity of 187 megawatts (MW).
  • Northwest Territories Power Corporation generates and distributes NWT’s electricity. Northland Utilities Ltd. is also responsible for distribution.
  • 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 to provide electricity for their diesel microgrid at Lac de Gras.
  • Since 2016, Colville Lake has been powered by a solar/battery and diesel hybrid system. The settlement, 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.
  • 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

  • Enbridge’s Norman Wells pipeline transports crude oil production from NWT and northwest Alberta to Zama, Alberta (Figure 4). In 2016, the pipeline transported all 8.8 Mb/d of Norman Wells’ production.
  • 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. An NEB hearing for the replacement of the affected segment concluded in late October 2017. Resumption of production at Norman Wells will depend on the outcome of this proceeding.
  • 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

  • The Spectra Energy BC Pipeline originates in the southwestern corner of NWT and connects the Liard field 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 kilometer (km) pipeline connects Ikhil to the town of Inuvik. The pipeline is jointly regulated by the NEB and the NWT’s Office of the Regulator of Oil and Gas Operations. 
  • The local distribution company in Inuvik is Inuvik Gas Ltd, which is regulated by the Northwest Territories Public Utilities Board.
  • The Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP) is a proposed project that includes the development of gas fields in the Mackenzie Delta and the construction of a 1 200 km long gas pipeline (the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline) that would extend from the Mackenzie Delta to the Alberta-NWT border.
  • The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline received federal approval in December 2010; however, construction has yet to begin. In 2016, the NEB extended the project’s “sunset clause” to 31 December 2022. The project is 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 diesel generators.
  • There are no existing or proposed large-scale LNG facilities in NWT.


  • 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 small 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.

Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Total Energy Consumption

  • End-use demand in NWT was 21.4 petajoules (PJ) in 2015. The largest sector for energy demand was industrial at 54% of total demand, followed by transportation at 23%, commercial at 12%, and residential at 11% (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 2.5 PJ (12%) and 1.9 PJ (9%), 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 2016 demand for refined petroleum products (RPPs) in NWT was 4.8 Mb/d, or 0.3% of total Canadian RPP demand. Of NWT’s demand, 2.8 Mb/d was for diesel and 0.7 Mb/d was for gasoline.
  • A significant portion of NWT’s demand for diesel fuel is for power generation. Diesel-based power plants accounted for 51% of NWT’s total installed power capacity in 2015.
  • 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 Northwest Territories Power Corporation.

Natural Gas

  • In 2016, NWT consumed an average of 10 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 10 MMcf/d.  


  • In 2015, annual electricity consumption per capita in NWT was 12.0 megawatt hours (MW.h). NWT ranked 8th for per capita electricity consumption and consumed 17% less than the national average.
  • NWT’s largest consuming sector for electricity in 2015 was commercial at 0.20 TW.h. The residential and industrial sectors consumed 0.19 TW.h and 0.14 TW.h, respectively. NWT’s electricity demand has declined 6% since 2005.
  • Because of its low population density, NWT has the second highest electricity rates in the country at 30.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
  • 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 2015 were 1 441 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)Footnote 1. NWT’s GHG emissions have decreased 3% 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 32.6 tonnes CO2e – 62 % above the Canadian average of 20.1 tonnes per capita.
  • The largest emitting sectors in NWT are transportation at 61% of emissions, buildings (residential and service industry) at 14%, and oil and gas production at 11% (Figure 8).
  • NWT’s GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector in 2015 were 0.2 MT CO2e, attributable to crude oil and natural gas production.
  • Data for GHG emissions from NWT’s power sector was not available for 2015.

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