Regulatory and Policy Updates

The Northwest Territories “Line of Delimitation” A Product of Devolution – Designed Use vs. Interpreted Uses

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 09:20 to 09:39 Theatre 3


S.K. Johnston (Presenting)
Mineral and Petroleum Resources, GNWT

The line of delimitation is a boundary line which splits oil and gas licences in the Beaufort Delta between onshore (territorial) and offshore (federal) jurisdiction. The line of delimitation for the Northwest Territories was created during and as a result of the devolution process between the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous governments. One of the main purposes was to define the limits of federal and territorial responsibilities; another was to define the limits of the resources for governance.

The line of delimitation is ideal for splitting oil and gas licences between the two jurisdictions, however it does not split discovery areas between the jurisdictions. The line also is not a complete line from the Yukon border to the Nunavut border. There are many possible reasons for this, but in any event this needs to be addressed as the intended use was splitting licences, but without a complete line from border to border there is a great deal of ambiguity in the eastern portion of the coastline of the Northwest Territories, even though the original intent of the line was not to continue across to the Nunavut border, it has been used by various groups as a means to delimit other resource jurisdictions.

There is no other provincial area in Canada with the unique combinations of resources straddling the coastline with three different levels of government; federal, territorial and indigenous governments. As part of Arctic policy and governance advancement, there should be a concerted effort to create a line of delimitation for all three territories and the federal governments’ offshore jurisdiction.