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Oil Drilling in North Costly - Fort Norman, NWT, 1920



Oil at Norman Wells, Northwest Territories


Vancouver Daily World (Vancouver, British Columbia) - December 16, 1920

Oil Drilling in North Costly - December 16, 1920


    The piping of oil from the Fort Norman field across the Rockies to the Yukon does not appear a feasible project to Captain T. P. O'Kelly, M. C., of the Hudson's Bay Company, who is in Vancouver at present on matters in connection with the company's transportation service in the far north. He knows the route proposed well, as he has been over it several times.

    Captain O'Kelly was at Fort Norman when the first oil was struck by the Imperial Oil Company's drillers. He has an analysis of the oil with him, which he states shows the oil is of a very high grade, but it is not suitable for use as a fuel oil without distillation,

    Asked as to further possible oil discoveries, Captain O‚ÄôKelly is optimistic. He says the district has immense possibilities for further development, "It is a rich man's proposition," he says. "Immense sums will have to be spent on proving up the fields before any scheme for the commercial use of the oil 1s projected."

    Captain O'Kelly says that if the field develops into the important oil centre that it gives promise of becoming, a railway must be built in the Mackenzie River Valley. Conditions for railway construction offer no insuperable difficulties, though the cost would be high. He does not consider a pipe line feasible, and the light draft of river steamers and barges, combined with the short navigation season would not make easy the use of the Mackenzie for transportation purposes upstream.

    The drop in elevation from the end of steel on the Athabasca river to Fort Norman is nearly 1,000 feet, but this could be broken by transportation in barges on Great Slave Lake.