Wally Schumann- Arctic Development Expo Keynote Address

Inuvik — June 11, 2019
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Check against delivery

  • Good morning everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
  • I am pleased to be participating in the latest evolution of Canada’s premier Arctic Trade Show. 
  • Firstly, I would like to thank the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council for welcoming us to this traditional territory.
  • I’d also like to welcome all the Indigenous leaders, governments, researchers, industry experts and members of the public to Inuvik for this event.
  • Your interest and participation in events like this are important to the progress and goals of the NWT and the Government of the Northwest Territories.
  • This morning, I’d like to speak about the future of energy security and economic prosperity for our territory.
  • I believe a significant part of that future lies here in the Mackenzie Delta, where world-class gas resources have been identified for decades.
  • In the NWT, responsible resource development is at the core of who we are. It drives our economy, has generated billions in opportunities for northern and Indigenous-owned businesses and provides thousands of jobs to residents. 
  • And, while we continue to explore ways to diversify our economy by looking at sectors like agriculture and tourism, we know that the responsible development of our natural resources has, and will continue to be the single biggest sector of our economy for the foreseeable future.
  • In addition to our world-class mineral resources, the NWT has some of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas and oil, both onshore and offshore and these resources, developed safely and responsibly, will result in significant long-lasting benefits and returns for NWT residents.
  • This past October, the Premier hosted an Economic Symposium here in Inuvik where the GNWT and Indigenous governments agreed that we need to take immediate steps to address the economic challenges the Northwest Territories faces, in order to ensure a sustainable future for the North and its residents.
  • At this event, NWT leaders agreed that large-scale investment in northern energy, transportation and communications infrastructure corridors would be key to creating investment and economic opportunities in all sectors.
  • These investments will provide greater access to our resources, stabilize or lower the cost of living, provide skills and training to our residents and generate economic opportunities for the people and businesses in the North.
  • The GNWT is committed to building a future where our resource industries are competitive and managed in the best interest of our territory and to ensuring that we have the right tools in place to achieve these goals.
  • To that end, the GNWT recently introduced the Mineral Development Strategy and the Petroleum Resources Strategy.
  • The petroleum resources strategy is part of our government’s overarching vision for addressing energy and climate change in the NWT.
  • The strategy also recognizes some possible opportunities for developing our gas locally to reduce the cost of living, displace diesel for a cleaner environment, and create sound long-term jobs.
  • These opportunities include working with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to support the completion of a feasibility study to produce natural gas from local wells and use those resources to generate electricity and heat for the region.
  • As we continue our work to implement the NWT petroleum strategy, our northern perspective offers a unique competitive edge – and an opportunity to consider a new direction for getting our gas to market.
  • We want to harness NWT resources that benefit our residents with lower-cost, cleaner heating and electricity and we want to find export markets for our gas over the long-term.
  • As projects begin to take hold, recent developments mean a new story is taking shape – and it’s centered here in the Mackenzie Delta.
  • The Mackenzie Delta is a region with potential, where trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are already defined — and ultimately can be Canada’s first highway to the Arctic coast without crossing other jurisdictions.
  • The region has active Indigenous businesses with experience in oil and gas, and a history of working with industry to get things done.
  • The GNWT, with support from our partners, is turning the page and looking to new opportunities for exporting gas from the NWT to markets.
  • With so much potential in this region, we should start looking at other ways to get our product to market, and find a way to use our resources to provide energy security to the residents who live here, across the NWT, and eventually globally.
  • In the long term, rather than looking south, we should be looking North, to our Arctic’s advantageous position for shipping to the Asia-Pacific region. 
  • From the delta of the Mackenzie River, it is just over 3800 nautical miles through the Beaufort Sea and Bering Strait to Tokyo.  By comparison, it is 4300 nautical miles from Vancouver to Tokyo; and well over 5100 nautical miles from the Yamal Peninsula to Tokyo.
  • If we were successful, we could deliver billions of tons of LNG to the Asia-Pacific market two days earlier - and without the challenges of laying thousands of kilometres of pipe.
  • Supporting our case - LNG is being sold in the Asia-Pacific region at six-or-seven-times North American prices - and consensus research tells us the demand will continue to grow until at least 2050.  
  • Ships are the pipelines of our future.  In fact, new ice-breaking LNG tankers are already safely running at full capacity from Yamal to Tokyo.
  • But in order to achieve this, it will require investment and strong partnerships with key stakeholders, including the federal government, Indigenous organizations, and industry.
  • In the NWT, we continue to actively addressing the infrastructure challenges to improve the viability of resource development in our territory.
  • With support from the federal government, the GNWT is investing in road and energy infrastructure, like the Taltson expansion project, Inuvik Wind and Slave Geological Province Corridor.  
  • We’ve also expressed the importance of marine infrastructure and ports and continue to seek investments. Together, these investments will unlock a number of northern development projects that could provide jobs and opportunities to thousands, drive the national economy, help connect resource-rich regions of the NWT to markets, help green the mining industry and lower operating costs. All of which will make the North a more attractive place to invest.
  • In the NWT, we have a long history of building strong partnerships with all levels of government and industry stakeholders to responsibly develop resources and we’ve demonstrated just how well that works in our mining sector.
  • The NWT model is at the forefront of Indigenous participation in mining, exploration and development. It is empowering and shaping Indigenous governments, businesses and communities and allowing our people to take control of their future.
  • I want to conclude my speech this morning with the following message:
  • The NWT has world-class mineral potential and our defined gas resources are second-to-none.
  • These resources are more than enough to provide energy security to this region and other parts of the territory while servicing an export market which could bring millions to this territory.
  • Market conditions, our changing Arctic, and advancing technologies mean that with the right partners, our gas resources can play an important role in global energy.
  • Now is the time to be bold and capitalize on these extraordinary opportunities – one of economic prosperity, clean reliable energy, and good jobs for our people.
  • I’d like to thank everyone again for being here this morning.
  • I look forward to speaking and hearing with many of you over the coming days and wish everyone a successful Expo.
  • Thank you.