Liard Basin resource assessment yields impressive results

YELLOWKNIFE (March 16, 2016) — World-class unconventional natural gas estimates in the Liard Basin were confirmed today by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), National Energy Board (NEB), Government of Yukon, and Government of British Columbia.

Assessment work was completed through a project partnership between the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment’s (ITI) Northwest Territories Geological Survey (NTGS) division, Yukon Geological Survey, BC Oil and Gas Commission, the British Columbia Ministry of Natural Gas Development, and the NEB.

The research focused on the Upper and Lower Besa River Formation shale straddling the borders of the Northwest Territories (NWT), Yukon, and British Columbia.

The NWT’s portion of the large find is located near existing gas infrastructure in the NWT and some exploration in the Liard Basin is already occurring in British Columbia.

The geological work behind the assessment was performed by the provincial and territorial partners while the estimate of gas resources was completed by the NEB.


“This assessment confirms the magnitude of resource potential we thought to exist in this region of the NWT. Development of natural resources is important to the NWT’s economy. We are committed to pursuing responsible stewardship of these resources through our land and resource management regimes.”

-          Bob McLeod, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

Quick facts

·         The Northwest Territories’ portion of the Liard Basin find in the Upper Besa River/Exshaw shale is estimated to contain 44 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of marketable, unconventional natural gas. 

·         Additionally, the Lower Besa River/Horn River shale located in the NWT is estimated to contain 187 TcF of gas-in-place, which could yield an estimated 33 Tcf of marketable unconventional natural gas.

·         The Liard Basin is expected to contain 219 Tcf of marketable, unconventional natural gas in total.

·         At this estimate, it would be Canada’s second largest gas resource behind the Montney Formation (449 Tcf) to the southeast in British Columbia and Alberta.

·         Canada’s total natural gas usage in 2014 was 3.2 Tcf, making the NWT portion of the Liard Basin marketable unconventional gas resource in the Upper Besa River/Exshaw portion equivalent to more than 14 years of Canada’s 2014 consumption, and the estimated availability in the Lower Besa River/Horn River portion equivalent to more than 10 years.

Relevant links

·         National Energy Board

o    Resource assessment

·         Northwest Territories Geological Survey 

·         Yukon Geological Survey

·         BC Oil and Gas Commission

Media inquiries for the department

Teresa Sanderson
Senior Communications Officer
Industry, Tourism and Investment
1-867-767-9202 (ext. 63038)