Details of the Road Construction and Oilfield Development program in the Northwest Territories of Canada - undoubtedly the largest such program in the nation's history - are gradually being released for publication. The program is under the auspices of the United States Army.
In addition to the main 'Alaska Highway' cut through in 1942 from the end of rail at Dawson Crock, British Columbia, to Fairbanks, Alaska, a 1,400 mile route - the American Army also has or is: (1) Improved the present Winter Tractor Road from Peace River to Hay River, and extended the north end of this road to Providence; (2) Has nearly completed a new Road from Smith on the Slave River to the region of Providence; (3) Plans continuation of the new Supply Roads from Providence up to Fort Norman, along the cast side of the MacKenzie River the 400 miles to the Norman Oilfield; (4) Is said to be constructing a new Road from Fort Simpson (on the Providence-Norman route) to connect with the Alaska Highway at Fort Nelson; (5) Is constructing a Road from Fort Norman to Whitehorse, along the route of the 400 mile 4 inch Pipeline being laid to transport Norman Area Oil to the Alaska Highway, this road being designed to provide for the moving of equipment and also the maintenance of the Pipeline between those points.
This big Road program involving in all probably around 3,000 miles of road in the Far North will not only provide for the urgent Military needs in transportation of men, supplies and equipment but will also supplement the existing railways road and river steamer transport facilities for other than strictly military movements, notably movements related to the big Oilfield Development program, According to a Government statement in Ottawa this week, the Canadian-United States agreement provides for the disposition of these Road projects to the Dominion following the War.
Military secrecy prevents any detailed report on the big Oilfield program at the present time. It can be stated, however, that the program now underway far exceeds in scope anything yet done in Canada. Its cost (provided in large measure by the United States government) will run into millions of dollars.
Already exploited (in 1942) has been the Fort Norma Oilfield, a shallow Devonian shale field discovered some years ago by the Northwest Company, an Imperial Oil subsidiary. The field, as a result of drilling done in 1942, is reported now capable of producing upwards of 3,000 bbls per day, This productive potential, of course, will not be utilized until transport facilities and processing facilities have been completed (The field is currently operating at a fraction of its potential, providing oil for local requirements).
The 1943 program involves extensive drilling in areas adjacent to the Fort Norman field; where structural conditions and productive prospects are believed comparable to the Norman field; very extensive 'wildcat drilling' on a considerable number of prospect areas in the Northwest Territories, and probably also in Northern Alberta and British Columbia; and a great Survey program, which will involve the use of numerous, Geological Survey Parties, to search for and rap other potential oil-bearing areas in the North.