The Mackenzie Delta, home to enough natural gas to supply all of Canada’s needs for years, cannot economically justify even a short little pipeline to Inuvik. Now the community imports propane by truck from Alberta to meet its heating needs.
Inuvik and Norman Wells, N.W.T., surrounded by vast hydrocarbon deposits, are forced to import large and costly quantities of fuel from southern Canada to keep homes warm and businesses running. There were some discussions with oil companies about producing one of the stranded discoveries, Parsons Lake, but costs of $50-million to $70-million were deemed to be too high.
Inuvik has decided to switch to a synthetic natural gas system that involves vapourizing propane and mixing it with air. The advantage of synthetic gas is that consumers can continue to use their natural gas appliances. The disadvantage is that it has to be transported to the Arctic, which is very expensive. Customers have been advised that they should expect a rate of $37 per gigajoule, twice what they were paying before. In Edmonton, propane sells for about $5 per gigajoule.
Early in the new year, the Town of Inuvik will switch back to Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG). Inuvik Gas will work closely with the local and chief gas inspectors as we make this switch. The Town has been using natural gas from the Ikhil gas well since late October, but the well is running dry.
This is an unfortunate and sad situation for the people of Inuvik, having to pay so dearly for gas when such large supplies are close. There was bad luck involved with the Ikhil gas well fading out early and unexpectedly.