Historical Northern Oil and Gas Research Initiatives

Scientific research into northern oil and gas was very active in the 1970s and 1980s. A large base of our current understanding was developed at this time. This historical information is important to furthering our understanding of the North .Knowledge of past activities can be useful to avoid duplication of efforts today. The following is a list of early research initiatives in Canada's North that developed a broad basis for our current understanding of the environment around northern oil and gas resources.

1976 - 1979: Eastern Arctic Marine Environmental Studies (EAMES) Program
A program developed to collect and interpret environmental data in order to prepare Environmental Impact Statements to be submitted to the Federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process. The studies were conducted in order to improve understanding of the Eastern Arctic marine ecosystem in anticipation of expanding oil and gas activities. In addition, the studies provided data to be used in the development of oil spill contingency plans. Studies were conducted in Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound.
1980 - 1983: Baffin Island Oil Spill (BIOS) Project
A set of studies involving experimental releases of crude oil to investigate the short- and long-term fate and effects of crude oil and chemically dispersed oil on Arctic shorelines and nearshore environments, as well as to determine the effectiveness of shoreline cleanup techniques. The studies took place on the northern end of Baffin Island.
1983 -1991: Northern Oil and Gas Action Plan (NOGAP)
A multi-disciplinary study that provided baseline data for assessing the potential effects of hydrocarbon development and production on the critical marine and estuarine habitats of the Canadian Arctic coastal shelf.
1983 - 1988: Beaufort Environmental Monitoring Program (BEMP)
A research and planning program that was part of NOGAP to advance the state of federal and territorial government preparedness for hydrocarbon development. The program identified and assessed potential environmental effects of offshore and land-based oil and gas development, and identified important information gaps and appropriate studies to address these gaps. The program was focused on the Beaufort Sea.
1985 - 1987: Mackenzie Environmental Monitoring Program (MEMP)
A monitoring program that identified and assessed potential environmental effects of onshore, land-based oil and gas development, and identified important knowledge gaps and studies to fulfill these gaps. The focus was in the Mackenzie Valley along the potential pipeline corridor.
1990 - 1994: Beaufort Region Environmental Assessment Monitoring (BREAM) Program
A program that combined and coordinated the efforts of BEMP and MEMP within a common framework, and involved governments, industry, Indigenous peoples and co-management organizations.
2002 – 2010: Mackenzie Gas Project
The Government of Canada funded targeted science research related to the Mackenzie Gas Project and the study of environmental and geotechnical issues that pertain to pipeline and induced oil and gas development. Research projects addressed a wide range of subject areas including:
  • geology
  • permafrost
  • terrain stability
  • water quality
  • vegetation
  • wildlife
  • ecosystems
2004 - 2008: Beaufort Sea Strategic Regional Plan of Action (BSStRPA)
A plan developed by governments, industry, the Inuvialuit and other Northerners to ensure all parties are prepared to manage benefits and impacts from induced oil and gas development that may result if the Mackenzie Gas Project is approved and built. Visit the Beaufort Sea Strategic Regional Plan of Action website for more information.
2008 United States – Canada Research Forum
The first United States – Canada Research Forum took place in October 2008 in Anchorage, Alaska. Over 300 participants from government, industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and Indigenous groups attended. The three-day event featured opening remarks from top administrators in the U.S. and Canada, separate overviews of U.S. and Canadian northern oil and gas activities and research programs, as well as panel discussions on management and industry research needs and priorities from both sides of the border. An additional 40 technical research papers and 25 posters were presented on topics ranging from engineering, oil spills, socio-cultural and economic issues, and the biological and physical sciences as they relate to oil and gas research. Access the Proceedings from the 2008 Forum (54.7 Mb, available in PDF format only).
2010 Canada – United States Research Forum
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (now Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) organized and hosted a second Research Forum in partnership with a number of government, Indigenous, academic, non-governmental and industry organizations from both Canada and the United States. The forum featured multidisciplinary research under the following topic areas:
  • environmental conditions in exploration areas,
  • interaction of oil and gas activities with sensitive coastal habitats
  • ice engineering for offshore operations
  • oil spill prevention in the Arctic
  • oil spill management in the Arctic
  • monitoring for cumulative effects in the Arctic
  • safety on northern offshore platforms and escape, evacuation and rescue issues
  • transportation logistics for exploration and development in the Arctic.
240 participants attended the forum in Calgary, Alberta. A total of 70 panel and scientific and technical talks and 26 posters were presented on research pertaining to the above noted topical areas. Access resources from the 2010 Forum.
2011 -2015: Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment
The Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment supported regional environmental and socio-economic research to assist in building a regional knowledge base to inform regulatory processes and project-specific environmental assessments related to oil and gas activity in the Beaufort Sea. It was supported by partners from the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, territorial and federal governments, the oil and gas private sector, and academia.
2012 United States – Canada Research Forum
The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior, in partnership with counterparts in Canada and the United States, hosted the third United States – Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. This event focused on sharing traditional, technical and scientific knowledge related to oil and gas activities in the Mackenzie Valley, North Slope of Alaska, and Beaufort and Chukchi Sea region. The forum was attended by over 175 participants, and included 71 panel and technical talks and 14 poster presentations.

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