Resupply of aviation fuel in Norman Wells, N.W.T., slated for January

A file photo of Norman Wells, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

By Robert Holden · CBC News 

Airlines still having to ‘eat the cost’ of the delay, says North-Wright Airways

Imperial Oil is set to deliver additional aviation fuel to Norman Wells, N.W.T., more than a month after the community’s supplies began to run short.

Airlines in the region were placed on fuel rations in early December, leading to a drop in operations and a growing backlog of Christmas cargo.

“The timing could not be worse,” said the town’s deputy mayor Pascal Audet.

Audet calls aviation fuel the “lifeblood” of the community, as the town increasingly relies on cargo being flown in until the winter road is available.

Low water on the Mackenzie River this year, along with the summer wildfire crisis, disrupted the normal shipment of fuel to the town.

In an email, Imperial Oil told CBC News it’s continuing to work with partners to ensure fuel levels return to normal in the community — with some supply being shipped by air.

Norman Wells-based North-Wright Airways saw operations plummet to 40 per cent after the ration order.

After meetings this week between the aviation industry, Imperial Oil and Sahtu leadership, the airline said it was pleased to hear that rations would increase.

North-Wright Airways operations manager Kyle Newhook said the increased allowance is a step in the right direction, but the airline will continue to lose money until the rest of the fuel arrives.

“It’s obviously fantastic to hear they’re coming up with a plan,” he said. “Airlines have unfortunately had to make changes to deal with this, and eat the costs because of this oversight.”

Newhook said the details involving the fuel delivery are still being worked out, but the shipment is expected to arrive in early January.

When asked about an estimated delivery date, Audet told CBC he’s happy solutions are moving forward, but declined to give any further details.

It remains unclear what role the N.W.T. government might play in the transport of the fuel.

Tracy St. Denis, assistant deputy minister with the territory’s Department of Infrastructure, previously told CBC News the government is actively involved in discussions related to the shortage.

The department announced Wednesday that the winter road from Tulita to Norman Wells is officially open.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nuclear power no solution for the N.W.T., some experts suggest, CBC News

Finland: Lapland among regions not in favour of wind power compensation for eastern Finland, Yle News

Norway: Will the green transition be the new economic motor in the Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Wind farm delays in northern Sweden could hinder green revolution, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Borough gets $2 million tribal energy grant, Alaska Public Media

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