New partner on board
Consumers Gas joins Ikhil group in gas project

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Apr 24/98) - The last link in the plan to supply Inuvik with low-cost natural gas is in place.

The Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation, which owns the Ikhil gas well north of town in the Storm Hills, has signed a deal with IPL Energy Inc. to build an in-town distribution system to deliver the gas to homes and businesses here.

Calgary-based IPL already owns the Norman Wells crude pipeline and operates Canada's largest natural gas distribution company through Consumer's Gas, which has 1.4 million customers in Ontario, Quebec and New York State. Calgary-based AltaGas Services Inc. is the third partner in the company and its expertise is in moving gas from the wellhead to market. The three will split the costs and share the profits.

The $32-million project is the biggest private venture currently taking place in the NWT outside of the diamond mines. The pipeline and in-town piping system will be laid next summer.

Project officials have estimated that Inuvik residents will see heating bills drop between 15 and 20 per cent once the pipeline is in place.

"We are delighted to be involved in a project which will bring an indigenous energy supply to the residents of the town of Inuvik," said IPL president Brian MacNeill. "IPL Energy's participation also reflects the long-term strategic importance the company places in both oil and natural-gas development in Canada's North."

Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation chairman Russell Newmark said this winter's drilling program found enough natural gas to keep the town supplied for the next 20 years, several years more than was thought before the exploration program was carried out.

The winter program resulted in $3-million worth of contracts given to Inuvialuit-owned companies, he said, and produced 3,000 person-days of employment here, and next year the amount of work will be doubled.

Earlier this week, NWT resources minister Stephen Kakfwi was in town for the announcement of the deal in front of a room full of beneficiaries at the Inuvialuit Corporate Centre. He said the pipeline will reduce the cost of living and doing business in the Delta, as well as reducing emissions caused by burning diesel for power.

"This will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions...and shows our commitment in the NWT, in Canada, and as aboriginal peoples to reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

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