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Offshore ban in Arctic will cost northern economy: Northwest Territories premier

CALGARY _ The premier of the Northwest Territories says a federal decision to stop issuing offshore oil and gas licences in the Arctic was made without consultation with the people whose economy stands to pay the price.

Bob McLeod says he first heard about the move about two hours before it was announced Tuesday.

He says the ban on offshore licences will leave untapped a potential bounty of seven billion barrels of oil and 92 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the ban is intended to ensure a sustainable Arctic economy, preserve the region’s ecosystem and prevent future risks associated with offshore oil and gas activity.

But McLeod says the measure is a step back from recent efforts to transfer more powers from Ottawa to the territories and was made to impress voters in southern Canada at the cost of the northern economy.

He says Trudeau told him Tuesday he plans to meet with premiers from the three territories early next year to discuss a process to share leadership in the Arctic, build up Arctic fisheries and jobs and provide details on a new $200 million program to develop marine transportation infrastructure.