Yukon is a territory within the Canadian confederation and has powers similar to those of a province. It has been a separate geographical and political entity within Canada since 1898.
Yukon obtained administration and control over its land and resources through a process of negotiated devolution. Responsibility for onshore oil and gas resources was transferred to the Yukon government on November 19, 1998. Federal and Yukon legislation implemented the transfer of responsibility for public lands, forests, water and minerals, and gas from coal from the federal government to Yukon, as provided for in the April 1, 2003 Devolution Transfer Agreement.
With these transfers, Yukon obtained the resource management powers and responsibilities similar to a province. Nevertheless, the Government of Canada continues to have a regulatory role with respect to international and interprovincial pipelines, and offshore management. In addition, First Nations which have concluded land claims agreements own the resources on the surface of their lands, and on specific parcels, subsurface resources.
Government of Yukon
Yukon First Nations
Government of Canada
On November 19, 1998, Yukon assumed the administration and control of oil and gas resources in the territory.
Yukon’s resources can be developed in a way that reflects Yukon’s interests and in a manner that is responsive to industry needs. Prior to the transfer of responsibility to Yukon, most oil and gas projects required a land use permit from the federal government and an oil and gas licence from the Yukon Government. Now, both the land use permit and the licence are issued by the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR).
EMR manages the natural resources and regulates development within the territory.
Oil and Gas Resources (OGR) within EMR deals with all oil and gas matters. OGR is responsible for managing oil and gas resources and regulating oil and gas activity; and encouraging the responsible development of Yukon’s oil and gas resources and the development of an emerging oil and gas industry. In carrying out its responsibilities, OGR is engaged in:
Brian Love - Director
Oil and Gas Resources
Yukon First Nations play a very important role in resource development in three significant ways. First, as a result of land claims settlements, they own surface and/or subsurface rights as follows:
Third, Yukon First Nations are involved in or are consulted through various oil and gas related processes, notably the disposition and licensing process. In addition, they are entitled to be parties to benefits agreements for oil and gas activities planned within their traditional territories.
Land Claims Negotiations
Land claims is the term used to describe the process of negotiating final and self-government agreements respecting aboriginal rights and title to land. Historically, the Government of Canada negotiated treaties with aboriginal peoples to establish aboriginal rights. As treaties were never concluded in Yukon, the governments of Canada and Yukon completed negotiations with 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations.
Settlement of land claims provides Yukon First Nations with rights and obligations to land and resources, and the ability to govern their own affairs. It also provides certainty with respect to land management and resource development, and charts a stable future for social, economic and political development of the territory.
The Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) is the framework agreement for all Yukon land claims negotiations and settlement agreements. As outlined in the UFA, settlement lands will collectively total approximately 41,500 square kilometres or about nine per cent of the total land area of Yukon once all Final Agreements are in place. A portion of these settlement lands include subsurface oil and gas rights which will encompass approximately six per cent of Yukon.
Yukon First Nations acquire ownership of their own oil and gas lands as each Final Agreement comes into effect.
Status of Land Claims Negotiations
There are a total of 14 Yukon First Nations. The following 11 Yukon First Nations have concluded and are implementing final and self-government agreements. The year in which each agreement came into effect is in brackets.
White River First Nation, Ross River Dena Council and the Liard First Nation have not yet concluded land claims agreements.
Some Yukon First Nations share traditional use and occupancy of Yukon land with First Nations in both British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. In B.C., those First Nations are within the Kaska Dena Council, the Tahltan Tribal Council and Taku River Tlingit First Nation. In the N.W.T., they are the Tetlit Gwich’in, the Inuvialuit and First Nations of the Dene/Metis. The Tetlit Gwich’in and the Inuvialuit have Transboundary Agreements which are in effect, while discussions with other Transboundary First Nations remain at an early stage.
First Nations Powers to Create and Enforce Laws on Settlement Lands
The self-government agreements of Yukon First Nations provide them with law-making authority over their citizens and lands. Of importance to oil and gas companies interested in investing in Yukon are the following law-making powers of First Nations:
Land Claims and Implementation Secretariat, Executive Council Office
Telephone: (867) 667-5035 or 1-800-661-0408 local 5035 (toll free within the Yukon)
Although the federal government transferred responsibility for onshore oil and gas to Yukon, it continues to have responsibility for oil and gas management and development in the Beaufort Sea, and continues to regulate interprovincial and international pipelines.
The federal government retains responsibility and authority in the offshore area. Significant oil and gas resources exist in this region as identified in a report by Dixon et al (Petroleum Resources of the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea-1994). This report estimates 12 Tcf of discovered conventional natural gas plus 54 Tcf of potential, for an ultimate potential of 66 Tcf of conventional natural gas; and 1.7 billion barrels discovered crude oil and 5.4 billion barrels potential, for an ultimate potential of 7.1 billion barrels of crude oil.
Oil and gas resource management in the Beaufort Sea region is regulated under two federal statutes: the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA); and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act (COGOA). The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development governs the allocation of oil and gas rights to the private sector and all related conditions under CPRA. The National Energy Board regulates the industrial activities regarding resource conservation, protecting the environment and workers’ safety primairly under COGOA.
Under the 1993 Canada Yukon Oil and Gas Accord, the federal government made a commitment to complete a shared offshore management regime and revenue sharing arrangement in the Beaufort Sea with Yukon. To ensure Yukon’s interests are met and regulatory certainty is provided to the oil and gas industry, concluding shared offshore arrangements is a priority for Yukon. Until such arrangements are finalized, an interim joint Federal/ Territorial Offshore Committee has been established pursuant to CPRA.
Industry interests in oil and gas exploration and development in the Beaufort Sea-Mackenzie Delta region have increased significantly in the past few years, driven mainly by the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project. A new offshore well was drilled by Devon Canada during the winter of 2005/2006.
Yukon continues to participate in and monitor a number of national and international initiatives and issues related to the Beaufort Sea region. Some of these include: the Integrated Oceans Management Plan for the Beaufort Sea (under Canada’s Oceans Action Plan); the Beaufort Sea Strategic Regional Plan of Action; the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Strategic Plan; and the Canada/U.S. boundary dispute.
Perry Diamond – Senior Oil and Gas Analyst
Oil and Gas Business Development and Pipeline Branch
Interprovincial and International Pipelines
Under the Canadian constitution the federal government is responsible for interprovincial and international trade and commerce. As such, the National Energy Board regulates and is responsible for international and interprovincial pipelines. The federal minister of Natural Resources Canada is responsible for the Northern Pipeline Agency. See section on pipelines.