The Crown, Territorial Jurisdiction, and Aboriginal Title: Issues Surrounding the Management of Oil and Gas Lands in the Northwest Territories

  • Richard J. Difrancesco


The majority of the land in the Northwest Territories (NWT) is Crown land and, as such, is subject to federal regulations. The regulatory regime which applies to the exploitation of the oil and gas potential of these lands has evolved from an ad hoc system of ordinances, to an elaborate system of incentives and restrictions in the 1980s, to a much less restrictive and industry friendly regime at present. Forces of change acting to affect this federally dominated regime include ongoing Constitutional development of the NWT, the settlement of Native land claims and the implementation of the inherent right to self-government. This paper explores oil and gas activities in the NWT, paying particular attention to the regulatory regime and how forces of change stand to alter the jurisdiction of federal, territorial and Native governments in the NWT.