Energy, Mines and Resources

Oil and Gas Resources

Roles and Responsibilities of Governments

Roles and Responsibilites


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.

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Roles and Responsibilities Chart


Government of Yukon

Yukon First Nations 

Government of Canada

Primary role/responsibility
  • Owns oil and gas resources on Yukon public lands and has legislative authority over them
  • Responsible for surface access and permitting
  • Responsible for water rights and permitting
  • Developing a common regime for oil and gas in cooperation with Yukon First Nations
  • With settled land claims own oil and gas resources on their Category A settlement lands
  • With settled land claims have jurisdiction and legislative authority over their resources which is implemented when they enact their own laws
  • With settled land claims are responsible for authorizing surface access on Category A and B settlement land
  • Developing a common oil and gas regime in cooperation with Yukon
  • Has jurisdiction over the Beaufort offshore
  • Has jurisdiction over international and interprovincial pipelines
  • Has responsibility for authorizations when federal laws apply
Primary Departments
  • Department of Energy, Mines and Resources
  • Executive Council Office
  • Each First Nation will have its own administration for resources for which it controls
  • National Energy Board
  • Department of Indian and Northern Affairs
  • Other Federal departments

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Government of Yukon

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:

  • Conducting oil and gas rights dispositions.
  • Managing continuances of oil and gas rights.
  • Registering transfer of rights and security notices.
  • Licensing oil and gas activities and operations.
  • Administering oil and gas royalties and resource revenues.
  • Monitoring and inspecting operations for regulatory compliance.
  • Developing and implementing oil and gas legislation.
  • Continuing to work with First Nations on the common oil and gas regime.
  • Supporting and coordinating capacity building, education programs and oil and gas training.
  • Promoting northern infrastructure development such as pipelines.
  • Coordinating employment and training initiatives.
  • Supporting the growth of Yukon’s service and supply sector.
  • Negotiating benefits agreements.
  • Marketing Yukon’s resource potential and development activities.
  • Managing Yukon’s interests in offshore Beaufort Sea development.
  • Negotiating shared offshore management with the Government of Canada.
  • Liaising with industry.
  • Representing the Yukon Government on intergovernmental committees dealing with oil and gas development and pipeline matters.


Ron Sumanik - Director
Oil and Gas Resources
Phone: 867.667.5026

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Yukon First Nations

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:

  • Category A settlement lands: Yukon First Nations own the surface rights and subsurface minerals rights which include oil and gas resources. As resource owners, Yukon First Nations are responsible for managing and regulating oil and gas on Category A lands, subject in part to passing their own legislation.
  • Category B settlement lands: Yukon First Nations own the surface rights but not the subsurface mineral rights.
    Second, as owners of oil and gas resources, Yukon First Nations are working with the Yukon Government in continuing to develop a common oil and gas regime.

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.

  • Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (1993)
  • First Nation of the Nacho Nyak Dun (1993)
  • Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (1993)
  • Teslin Tlingit Council (1993)
  • Selkirk First Nation (1997)
  • Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation (1997)
  • Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation (formerly Dawson First Nation) (1998)
  • Ta'an Kwäch'än Council (2002)
  • Kluane First Nation (2004)
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation (2005)
  • Carcross Tagish First Nation (2006)

White River First Nation, Ross River Dena Council and the Liard First Nation have not yet concluded land claims agreements.

Transboundary 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:

  • The authority to enact laws of a local or private nature on settlement land with respect to subjects such as land use and management, licensing and regulation of businesses and the establishment and regulation of local services and facilities.
  • The authority to enact laws for their citizens in Yukon in the areas of language, culture and spiritual beliefs; health care and services; social and welfare services; training programs; adoption, guardianship, custody, care and placement of children; education programs and services; estates; resolution of disputes outside the courts; and licenses to raise revenue.
  • The authority to enact laws in relation to property taxation, personal income taxation, corporate income tax and other forms of direct taxation of residents on settlement land.


Land Claims and Implementation Secretariat, Executive Council Office
Telephone: (867) 667-5035 or 1-800-661-0408 local 5035 (toll free within the Yukon)

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Federal Government

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.

Offshore Areas

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 Resources Branch
(867) 393-7044

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.