Fuel…in the Arctic

Think about this. There are no roads to Nunavut. There are 25 communities. There are 38, 750 people. How do these towns have electricity, furnace oil, gasoline…?
Let’s talk about fuel in the Arctic.
All the fuel for towns in Nunavut is brought in by large fuel ships called oil tankers. One of the unique problems with this, is that in the Arctic, the water is frozen for most of the year. So, there is only a small opportunity for the ships to replenish the fuel in our communities.
Iqaluit, with the largest population of about 7500, needs the most amount of fuel. These are our fuel tanks, that will hold our fuel for a year.

If we run out in the winter, there’s no way to get more, until the summer months. There have been instances when small communities have nearly missed their fuel supply when excess frozen ocean waters and colder temperatures nearly prevented the container ship in. Eek. And, because Nunavut communities are powered through generators, just imagine what would happen if we had no fuel! Any power outage here, is a major concern. Especially in the winter months, with temperatures reaching -30’s to -50 degrees Celsius.
If there is excess ice in the harbours here, ice breakers come to the rescue. The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Terry Fox, arrived in Iqaluit in June.

Video coming soon

Getting fuel to the town. Easy, right? Er, not really. The ships bringing this fuel are oil tankers after all. Nunavut towns don’t have huge ports or wharfs like Southern Canada ports. So, getting the fuel from the tank to our storage containers is another challenge.

As Franco describes in the video below, petroleum is pumped from a ship docked 140 metres away from the shore through hoses attached to the main land pipe that go to the tank farms.

Click here to watch how they do it: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/878174787909/

The good news for Iqaluit, is that we are getting a deep sea port. It’s been under construction for the past 2 years and is another huge feat for a small town, so that fueling Iqaluit will be just a little bit easier.


5 thoughts on “Fuel…in the Arctic

  1. A problem with our fuel….. our toys, like ATVs often have pinging sounds. This is attributed to poor quality gas and/or fuel that has water in it. Sucks for us high rolling…fast riding… 4 wheeling… nuts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was very interesting to read/watch.
    Do you have any thoughts on why wind energy is not harnessed? There seems to be an unlimited supply of wind across the arctic 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know why, but I have wondered that myself. There is soooooo much wind here. It makes sense, doesn’t it? We should also have in-ground freezers since the ground is permanently frozen. Maybe this is another blog post…..


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