Mr. Speaker, now that the Government of the Northwest Territories is responsible for administering the territory’s onshore petroleum resources, we are looking ahead to effectively plan and manage the NWT’s world-class oil and gas potential for the benefit of all residents.
To encourage future exploration and responsible development of oil and gas reserves in the territory, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is preparing for its first-ever Call Cycle for Oil and Gas Exploration Rights.
Mr. Speaker, at this stage, the petroleum rights issuance process is moving forward with the Call for Nominations, which may then be followed by a Call for Bids. During the Call for Nominations phase, interested parties have four weeks to recommend parcels of land to the GNWT that should be made available for oil and gas exploration. Once the results of these submissions have been assessed, the government will decide which parcels will be made available to prospective bidders in a Call for Bids. The Petroleum Resources Act requires that the Call for Bids must remain open for a minimum of 120 days.
I want to emphasize, Mr. Speaker, that receiving a nomination for a particular parcel does not automatically mean that the GNWT will offer it up for future oil and gas exploration or a Call for Bids. Nominations are a first step in a broader call cycle process, which can take up to a year for the entire process to be completed, including the issuance of exploration licences. The process allows our government to manage the pace and scale of oil and gas development in our territory in a clear and consistent way that reflects northern priorities. At the same time, the certainty provided by clear processes helps promote the territory’s competitive position and improves business and investor confidence.
Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is careful to consider the views of the public, stakeholders and Aboriginal governments in its decisions on oil and gas development. With the NWT’s unique interests, ITI has engaged with Aboriginal governments and organizations that may be directly affected by new exploration projects. During the month of September, officials from the GNWT met with representatives of the Tulita, Deline, and K’asho Got’ine District Land Corporations, the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Game Council to seek their views on the issuance of petroleum exploration land in their respective areas. This is one of the more important and critical parts of preparing the Call for Nominations. The consultation and engagement process gave us a better understanding of what lands must not be opened up for development. We will continue to engage with Aboriginal governments and organizations in our decision-making, reflecting the crucial role they play in the future of the NWT.
In going through the consultation and community engagement and the Call for Nominations process, our government also learns more about the suitability of our lands for petroleum development and our level of attractiveness as a jurisdiction for industry investment that will help inform future plans and decisions.
The information gathered during the Call Cycle is also valuable as we proceed with the development of an NWT Oil and Gas Strategy, as recommended in the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy. The Oil and Gas Strategy will serve as the blueprint for oil and gas development in the territory for the next 20 years, and is a key component of this Government’s vision to build a strong and prosperous territory that provides opportunity to our regions.
Mr. Speaker, devolution was a major step for this government, one which could not have been completed without great effort and collaboration with our partners. The Call Cycle builds on these partnerships with a collaborative process that demonstrates this government’s ability to move forward and foster a supportive environment for responsible, sustainable development.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.