Imperial Oil visiting Sahtu communities in N.W.T. this week

The Norman Wells Imperial Oil plant in July 2022. The 143-year-old oil company is visiting all 5 Sahtu communities in the N.W.T. this week. (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)
The Norman Wells Imperial Oil plant in July 2022. The 143-year-old oil company is visiting all 5 Sahtu communities in the N.W.T. this week. (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)

Imperial Oil is travelling to all five Sahtu communities in the N.W.T. this week for what it's calling "neighbour week."

The 143-year-old company says the purpose of the visits are for people to learn about its oil operation in Norman Wells, N.W.T., to ask questions, and to provide feedback.

Company representatives will be in Norman Wells on Monday, Fort Good Hope on Tuesday, Tulita on Wednesday, Délı̨nę on Thursday and Colville Lake on Friday.

"Being a good neighbour and responsible operator are priorities for us," said Keri Scobie, an Imperial Oil spokesperson, in an email. "This is another way we can engage and build relationships with those close to our operations."

Conflict over closure plans

The community tour comes a few months after Imperial Oil withdrew an application to build a waste management facility in Norman Wells, as part of its eventual closure and reclamation.

The Sahtu Secretariat had criticized the application. In a letter to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board last spring, chairperson Charles McNeely said he was concerned about Imperial's plans to leave artificial islands in the river and to leave waste in the North. He was also concerned about how the closure and reclamation plan was being handled.

When it withdrew the application, Imperial Oil said the Sahtu Land and Water Board and the Canada Energy Regulator's application processes were too complicated and were taking too much time.

It also said it "became clear" community members wanted to "engage on closure holistically."

Imperial's current water licence expires in 2025, though the company will likely apply for another one. Last summer a company spokesperson said Imperial anticipates producing oil in Norman Wells for another five to 10 years.