10/30/2013 05:49 EDT | Updated 12/30/2013 05:12 EST

NEB OK's 1st fracking project in N.W.T.

Permission to drill two fracking wells near Tulita, N.W.T., has been given to ConocoPhillips by the National Energy Board, the first authorization for hydraulic fracturing that the board has issued anywhere in the North.

"The board is satisfied with ConocoPhillips’ risk assessment of conducting hydraulic fracturing in the area including a review of the geology and fault identification and the proposed mitigation measures and commitments including microseismic monitoring," the NEB said in a letter to the company. 

The company has to give regular updates and keep the NEB in the loop on any changes in plans, but the letter gives ConocoPhillips permission to conduct hydraulic fracturing in the wells for five years.

The regulatory approval comes 4½​ months after the Sahtu Land and Water Board approved the project without an environmental assessment.

Aboriginal and non-aboriginal businesses pressured the board to give speedy approval. They said an environmental assessment would send the wrong message to industry.

ConocoPhillips plans to drill the two holes this winter.