Government to boost fuel storage in Canada’s Northwest Territories

Fuel is shipped to many coastal communities by barge. The governments say increasing fuel storage capacity will ensure residents in these communities have year-round access to fuel. (NTCL)
The Canadian and Northwest Territories governments have announced a plan to increase fuel storage in the territory, which they say will help mitigate the impact of natural disasters like wildfires.

According to a government press release, the project will add 13.2 million litres of fuel storage to the Northwest Territories supply chain.

This includes increasing storage capacity in Hay River and Tuktyoyaktuk, which will help with resupplying other communities in the North, according to the press release. The governments also plan to increase storage capacity in Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok and Paulatuk by 210 per cent.

“The reality is that communities in Canada’s north rely on diesel for travel, to generate electricity, and to heat homes and businesses,” MP Michael McLeod stated in the press release. “This important work will help safeguard fuel supply chain to ensure that residents are protected from fuel shortages caused by climate change disasters.”

Friday, the federal government committed $21.75 million to the project through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaption Fund. Launched in 2018, the 10-year $2 billion federal fund is designed to help communities better withstand natural hazards.

The territorial government also announced it will contribute $7.25 million to the fuel supply project.

The press release says the project will ensure more than 5,600 people in the territory will have year-round access to fuel to heat their homes and businesses as well as community centres.

The 110-metre rail bridge over the Steen River reopened on Aug. 2 after being damaged in a wildfire. (CN Rail)

In the Northwest Territories, fuel travels by rail from Alberta to Hay River and is then shipped to coastal communities by barge.

The fuel resupply project announcement comes after a key bridge on the railroad used for shipping fuel to the Northwest Territories from southern Canada was damaged by a wildfire in May.

The Steen River rail bridge in Alberta was rebuilt by CN Rail and recently reopened for use.

“Natural disasters resulting from climate change can, and have, impacted the Northwest Territories,” Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann said in the statement.

“Increasing the fuel storage capacity in several of our northern communities will make our critical fuel resupply infrastructure more resilient to climate change and allow for fuel to be delivered to N.W.T. communities if there are breaks in the supply chain or other events prevent fuel from being transported North.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Fuel shortage hits small community in Arctic Canada, CBC News

Finland: Finnish chemistry professor develops “revolutionary” biofuel, Yle News

Russia: LNG could fuel towns in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

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