Company wants to settle discussion on fracking
Black Spruce CEO Dave Murray
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Black Spruce has settled into taking the process step by step and is prepared, he said, to take on a review of its fracking plans as an educational opportunity for the people of the province.
The provincial government is still welcoming proposals for onshore drilling, but has been resistant to settling the debate over whether or not it would bring in fracking-specific regulations for the province.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale told reporters she is not going to commit to making no changes to the current regulations.
Minister of Natural Resources Tom Marshall has said he plans to travel to Saskatchewan to see onshore and fracking work up close.
There was work on about 2,000 tight oil wells with fracking being applied in that province last year, according to president of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources Kevin Heffernan, who also presented at the Noia event.
Heffernan said wells are drilled in half the time and can produce four times more than as recently as 2006. It is also an industrial operation that is being completed elsewhere in the country in a controlled manner and without damage to local water supplies — attempting to dismiss a common argument against fracking.
The statements by Heffernan were nothing hardline anti-fracking groups and those pressing for fracking-specific regulations — including members of the province’s Opposition parties — haven’t heard before.
Murray said he is not fazed by the ongoing political battles and current lack of regulatory certainty.
“There’s not concern, there’s just not specifics. So it’s really hard to comment when there are no specifics, to respond to them and so we just have to do our best to respond to all the guidelines that are in place and if other rules and regulations come out, to respond to those as and when they come out,” he said.
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And that is part of how the company plans to make it work in western Newfoundland — with disciplined communication.
“We have people with the pockets to take the risk that’s appropriate, that’s necessary in these types of startup operations. We also have the discipline to (act) and operate like a big company and not like small companies which often lack discipline, make mistakes in the public realm and other areas,” he said.
He would not comment by a recent misstep by Shoal Point Energy, wherein the company was forced to retract false statements made in a press release.
Instead, he said the Black Spruce board and management team have worked on drilling programs in Colorado, North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania, to name a few locations. The team, he suggested, is ready to handle whatever comes directly to its own door.
The regulatory review of their plans in Newfoundland has not begun, but the Black Spruce team is already going out on a financial limb in preparing for work. Murray said a drilling rig is under retrofit for the company in Houston, Texas.
He said the company now has some more conventional oil targets and work could begin on exploration in those cases in the October time frame.
“But that’s not going to be up to us. It’s up to getting all of the approvals,” he said.