Energy, Mines and Resources

Government's role in oil and gas development

Science and informed decision making

Making informed decisions in a timely manner is an obligation that governments take seriously. Access to the best available information is vital to protecting the public’s interest. But the information itself is not enough. It must be applied within a framework of laws and policies, processes and procedures and then applied appropriately to the decision at hand.

Consultation with affected First Nations and Land Use Planning processes are two of the ways in which we draw on traditional knowledge in affected areas. Both traditional knowledge and western science knowledge are necessary for sound decision making. 

Yukon’s context for oil and gas development includes many points of contemplation. Due to our expansive territory, northerly location, and dispersed population, transportation and heating account for the majority of fossil fuel use and generate approximately 80% of greenhouse gases. All of the fossil fuels used in Yukon are imported from other jurisdictions.

Producing Yukon’s oil and gas resources for use within the territory could reduce the amount of energy that is currently used to transport fuels from outside the territory. These transportation savings could result in lower energy costs and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change and environmental values also factor into energy discussions. Yukoners are aware of and deeply value our natural environment and abundant wildlife. Yukon has taken steps to protect wild places and manage our footprint on the land for future generations. Only 4.3% of Yukon’s land is currently available to oil and gas exploration within our 8 onshore sedimentary basins.

Discussions surrounding oil and gas development include the call for extensive baseline data gathering before any activity takes place. We agree that prior to activity, it is important to gather general baseline information about an area.

Yukon is investing in multi-disciplinary regional baseline data collection and research to aid decisions on development.  Industry’s responsibility is usually to collect specific data for their project in the area of the proposed activity. This data collection gives us information to monitor any changes from before a project begins until it reaches the end of its productive stage.

There is another reason to collect localized information. This information aids in design and adaptation to area conditions. For instance, knowing wildlife migration patterns allows for the development of wildlife management plans and operating conditions that ensure minimal disturbance to wildlife at important times.

While it’s important to know the state of the environment before activity begins, it doesn’t stop there. Science, research and feedback from ongoing operations are a continual process of learning and adjusting accordingly before, during and after activities.

Pre-activity baseline data will help with managing for factors like seasonal availability of water. Operators proposing development submit detailed site plans and document area-specific research before activity starts. All this information allows for area-specific adjustments in order for a project to proceed safely with minimal footprint.

During the operational stage project proponents are required, under many different laws, to provide operating details specific to the sites at which they conduct activity. These details tell us more about the local geology, but are also specific to operational safety of people and the environment.

At the end of a project sites are monitored to determine the extent of restoration required to return the land to a natural state. In many cases the information gathered here is compared to pre-project baseline bringing science, research and information gathering full circle.

Science, research and operational feedback are all forms of data that give us insight to a particular project; data that helps frame decisions, spark new research or determine next operational steps.

All of this information combined allows us to obtain maximum benefit from resource activities and minimize environmental footprint while supporting strategic opportunities to replace imported fuels with Yukon’s oil and gas resources.

Learn more about stewardship in oil and gas development

Questions or comments? Contact us: 


Oil and Gas Resources
Phone: 867.393.7042
Toll-free: 1.800.661.0408 ext. 7042
Email: oilandgasconversation@gov.yk.ca