Ottawa extends moratorium on oil and gas development in the Arctic

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Ottawa extends a moratorium on the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic

A view of the Beaufort Sea from the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica, July 16, 2017.

Restrictions on oil and gas exploitation in Arctic waters that scheduled to end in 2023 have been extended, according to the Government of Canada.

The decision dates back to mid-December, a federal spokesperson said in an email.

In 2016, Ottawa unilaterally announced that it would no longer issue permits to hydrocarbon development in Canadian arctic waters.

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod had denounced a southern colonialist approach and declared a red alert, as he believed the government was acting against the future of the oil and gas sector in the territory.

In 2019, Ottawa tightened these restrictions, but clarified that they would be withdrawn as of December 31, 2022. However, in an email, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada says this will not be the case.

We need jobs, said Jackie Jacobson, MP for Nunakput, the northernmost electoral district in the NWT. Right now people are really struggling to find work.

< p class="e-p">The last major project in the region dates back to the road linking Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, which was completed in 2017, notes MP Jacobson.

A Energy analyst Doug Matthews points out that even if the government were to lift the restrictions, there would be no consequences. The market expects peak oil to be reached long before any drilling is done in Arctic waters.

“Whether it's three or five years from now, peak demand is coming. If drilling begins in the Beaufort Sea, production would not occur for at least 15 years.

— Doug Matthews, Energy Analyst

In other words, oil companies would produce oil in a declining market.

Based on information from Natalie Pressman

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