Arctic offshore oil and gas

Learn about the Government of Canada's approach for offshore oil and gas in the Arctic.


The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Yukon signed the Western Arctic – Tariuq (Offshore) Accord on Thursday, August 10, 2023.

On this page


Federal responsibility for the management of oil and gas resources on Crown lands north of 60°N in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Northern offshore is administered by the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Management Directorate under the mandate of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The responsibilities include:

Arctic offshore moratorium

In 2016, as part of the Canada-U.S Joint Arctic Leaders' Statement, the Government of Canada announced a new partnership to embrace opportunities and confront challenges in the changing Arctic, with Indigenous and Northern partnerships, and responsible, science-based leadership.

At this time, Canada committed that commercial activities will occur only if the highest safety and environmental standards are met, and if they are consistent with national and global climate and environmental goals.

To address this commitment, Canada designated all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every 5 years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment. Canada committed to work and consult with territorial governments, industry and Indigenous governments and communities in the North on future decisions on offshore oil and gas development.

Following careful consideration, including the review of the reports of the five-year science-based review, the Government of Canada decided to maintain the indefinite moratorium and to support a subsequent review to inform future decisions with regard to the moratorium. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will continue to develop this review jointly with Northern partners.

Next steps on future Arctic oil and gas development

In 2018, the Government of Canada announced "Next Steps on Future Arctic Oil and Gas Development" for current licence holders. The next steps included:

Order prohibiting certain activities in Arctic offshore waters

In 2019, the Governor in Council issued an Order Prohibiting Certain Activities in Arctic Offshore Waters. The order prohibits any person, including an interest owner of a licence, to commence or continue any work or activity authorized under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act on the frontier lands that are situated in Canadian Arctic offshore waters and in respect of which the Minister of Northern Affairs has administrative responsibility for natural resources. The order will remain in effect for the duration of the moratorium.

Climate and marine science-based reviews

The Government of Canada worked with northern partners to co-develop a climate and marine science-based review in Canada's Western and Eastern Arctic offshore areas.

The objective of the collaborative review process was to assess the potential impact from Arctic offshore oil and gas exploration and development in Canada's Arctic waters.

To learn more on the Report of the Western Arctic Review Committee.

To learn more on the Report of the Committee on the Science-Based Assessment of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration and Development in the Eastern and Central Arctic.

Did you find what you were looking for?

What was wrong?

You will not receive a reply. Don't include personal information (telephone, email, SIN, financial, medical, or work details).
Maximum 300 characters

Thank you for your feedback

Date modified: