The provincial government says it has expanded geothermal rights to the Fort Nelson First Nation as it continues to explore and test the viability of the resource in Northeast B.C.
In a news release Wednesday, the energy ministry says the new permit grants rights to 6,700 hectares of land adjacent to areas first permitted in the former Clarke Lake gas field in 2019. With tenure secured, the ministry says Deh Tai LP, a development company of the first nation, can now apply to the Oil and Gas Commission for well authorizations to continue exploratory work.
"Our government is committed to working with First Nations to advance new clean-energy opportunities in a low-carbon economy," said ministry Bruce Ralston in a statement.
"The Fort Nelson area is not on the province's electrical grid, so this project has the potential to offset natural gas-fired electricity and heat with clean, renewable geothermal energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide jobs and economic development opportunities for local services and businesses."
The Tu Deh Kah Geothermal project proposes to re-purpose the gas field and use the geothermal heat for electricity generation. In its release, the province says the goal is to produce six to 15 megawatts of electricity, which it says would offset 35,000 tonnes of emissions, equivalent to taking 7500 cars off the road.
To date, the province says it has contributed more than $1 million to the project, including $530,000 from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund and $500,000 through the B.C. Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership with Western Economic Diversification Canada and the New Relationship Trust.
In March 2021, the federal government announced nearly $40.5 million for the project.
"This geothermal permit has secured us the geothermal rights to critical gaps between the previously awarded geothermal permit that have been identified as prime geothermal development areas, allowing us to further the investigation and development of the Tu Deh-Kah project," said Fort Nelson FN Chief Sharleen Gale.
"We look forward to continuing to work with our federal and provincial partners to make this project a model success that benefits our community members and the surrounding territory."
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