Fracking and facts

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The prospect of using hydraulic fracturing to develop western Newfoundland and Labrador’s oil resources is new to the province.

While oil development itself is not new — it has, after all, helped turn our home into one of the strongest economic performers in the country — hydraulic fracturing has not been used extensively in our province. So it’s only reasonable the public has questions about what this means to the province.

To address some of the questions people have about hydraulic fracturing, it is instructive to look at the experience of other provinces, where hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for many decades to produce natural gas and oil.

Hydraulic fracturing is the technology used to unlock oil and natural gas in deep rock formations. The technology has been used throughout North America since the 1940s. It has become more widely known about a decade ago when multi-stage hydraulic fracturing (fracturing a well at several intervals) and horizontal drilling made the recovery of natural gas and oil in deep rock formations, such as shale and tight sand, technically and economically feasible.

In Canada, the most common application of hydraulic fracturing is in the western provinces. It is also used safely in New Brunswick to tap into that province’s onshore natural gas resources.

In Alberta and British Columbia, more than 175,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured over the past 60 years without impacting drinking water, according to government regulators. In New Brunswick, there have been no reports of drinking water contamination related to the 49 hydraulic fracturing operations that have taken place since 1985.

There is also a growing body of scientific research that shows hydraulic fracturing poses no risk to drinking water. Preliminary results from an ongoing U.S. federal study, for example, indicate there is no evidence hydraulic fracturing contaminates drinking water.

The success of safe hydraulic fracturing operations in Canada is the result of a robust regulatory system that is keeping pace with evolving technology and industry best operating practices that are developed and implemented by the well-trained professionals in our industry. Before any hydraulic fracturing occurs in Newfoundland and Labrador, as part of the regulatory approval process, environmental assessments include an evaluation of drinking water, species at risk and coastal wildlife. Our member companies will only use industry best operating practices that meet or exceed regulatory requirements.

Our operating practices for hydraulic fracturing apply across Canada. Released in 2012, they identify sound wellbore construction as fundamental to protecting groundwater sources. The practices also support disclosure of fracturing fluid additives and development of fracturing fluid additives with the least environmental risks, and they commit member operators to measuring and disclosing water use with the goal of continuing to reduce environmental impact.

These practices were developed collectively by Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) member companies, and we expect the practices to inform and complement regulatory requirements.

For example, disclosure of fracturing fluid additives is mandatory in B.C. and Alberta, and can be found online at FracFocus.ca. The New Brunswick government is also requiring mandatory disclosure.

We welcome and support these efforts, and we look forward to further discussions with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador as it continues its comprehensive review of hydraulic fracturing and related regulations and guidance in other jurisdictions.

The reason for this is simple: by following these practices, and by supporting regulators in adopting similar measures, we improve public understanding of how our industry works and our commitment to safe and responsible development of Canada’s oil and natural gas resources.

In this regard, CAPP member companies also work to reduce the impact of our operations on other industries. For example, the offshore industry in Newfoundland and Labrador has built a constructive relationship with the fishing industry in the province through a forum called One Ocean, an organization that facilitates the sharing of information between both industries. We are confident that we can establish an equally constructive relationship with the tourism industry. We understand the value and importance of this industry to western Newfoundland and Labrador and agree that tourism is an integral part of the economy, culture and life in the area.

Public confidence in our industry is vital to continuing to access and develop oil and natural gas resources for the owners of the resource — in this case, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It’s important that people have all the facts as they participate in the important, ongoing discussion about energy resources.

Paul Barnes is manager for Atlantic

Canada with the Canadian Association

of Petroleum Producers.

Organizations: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador Alberta North America British Columbia U.S. B.C. Newfoundland and Labrador.It

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Recent comments

  • Hank
    November 15, 2013 - 23:14

    A program on TV showed the results of hydraulic Fracturing that brings natural gas to the surface, in this program they turned on the Kitchen water tap and light the gas or liquid from the Kitchen water tap with a lighter, If fracturing is bring natural gas to the surface and filling the water table with natural gas it appears to be destroying the natural water table or filling it with gas ? what other damage is it doing to the natural water table or air pockets,? is it creating a natural gas pocket or a gas BOMB?

  • EDfromRED
    November 08, 2013 - 13:15

    I would put frackers in the same category as cigarette companies: they have no qualms about making money off of the misery and death of others. Any pro-frackers live on fracked land? Don't think so.

  • Craig
    November 07, 2013 - 10:57

    To Gary and David.......... seismic surveys use air guns that make blasts of up to 250db. In water a noise of just 194db becomes SHOCK WAVES. I read somewhere that a seismic blast is 100,000 times as intense as the blast from a jet engine. The oil companies tell us that such sound has no affect of shrimp but if such a sound happened on your roof at midnight I am sure it would interrupt your activities no matter what it was you wee engaged in!!!!!!!!! My advise to you is stop swallowing the oil company crab, you may choke before anyone can offer assistance.

    • david
      November 08, 2013 - 08:51

      1) Airports sound precisely like several jet engines, every hour of the day. Why aren't you out protesting in front of the airport? 2) As far as shrimp go, we scoop 'em up and pile them on the deck where they suffocate in a mass grave. The horror! My "advise" to you is to get your head out of David Suzuki's arse.

    • craig
      November 08, 2013 - 11:53

      David......... obviously you have trouble reading or comprehending or both. One blast from a seismic air gun is like 100,000 jet engines all at once....not one or two every hour... put that in your arse and see if you would still be such a belligerent know-it-all!

  • concerned citizen of our great province nl
    November 06, 2013 - 14:32

    people should watch the documentary..gas land and i have heard of families in alberta that have to buy there drinking water because they can not drink there water.craig is right oil companys have an agenta you will only hear what they want you to .it's all about the money.

    • Tim Jamison
      November 07, 2013 - 12:50

      I did watch Gasland and then I watched a movie debunking it. Gasland is total garbage. It was researched and it's lies were shown for all to see. Then David Suzuki was publically humiliated and had his "emperor's nudity" pointed and laughed at. Anti-fracking protests are very shallow and unfounded and, when poked at with a little diligent research, they fall apart quickly

    • david
      November 08, 2013 - 09:02

      FYI...many "documentaries" these days are not factual accounts of anything. They are biased, very carefully designed propaganda films. People who take them at face value as fact are the exact fools that the backers of the film depend on.

  • craig
    November 06, 2013 - 10:35

    My brother is a fisherman. He has listened to the things the oil industry says about seismic surveys and he has repeatedly said to me that it is complete bull dropping what the oil industry says. He said you have to be out there to believe the noise. I suspect that what is being said here about Fracking is probably the same sort of spin the oil industry puts on seismic. Plain and simple, the oil companies have an agenda and they will spin facts to achieve that agenda. The agenda is MEGA PROFITS

    • david
      November 06, 2013 - 11:47

      My brother is a monk, and thinks that we should give up all our worldly possessions and take a vow of silence. So there.

    • david
      November 06, 2013 - 11:53

      BTW...this fisherman brother of yours....does he eat all the fish himself, or does he sell them for personal gain and profit? And might he hope for MORE fish and HIGHER prices, so that he might receive MEGA PROFITS for his trouble? That too might be construed as a greedn agenda, pal.

    • gary
      November 06, 2013 - 13:03

      Who cares what your brother says. I want to learn more about fracking (or any new technology) before I agree with it being used in my backyard.... but I want to learn from someone who's informed. Sure you're bro could be an amazing fisherman who's been around forever and a day, but how the heck does that qualify him to talk about seismic, fracking or anything. I'm betting neither him nor you has done any real research.

    • Dolf
      November 06, 2013 - 15:22

      David...when did an inshore fisherman make MEGA PROFITS? U'm out to lunch again at the wrong horse trough.

    • david
      November 06, 2013 - 19:17

      Dolf: You are a perfect example of what it is to be a Newfoundlander. Thanks and well done.

  • Nathan Elliott
    November 06, 2013 - 09:37

    If CAPP in particular, and the industry in general, is so eager to work with the public on regulations, why have they resisted the idea of fracking specific regulation in Newfoundland (in particular) and disclosure requirements around the world? Why does the industry claim a perfect safety record, but required people to sign non-disclosure agreements that keep accidents, problems with drinking water, and other environmentally troubling events out of the public eye? North Dakota's oil industry was recently discovered to have covered up over 300 oil spills. Jessica Ernst is suing EnCana and the Alberta government for water contamination on her land, which she claims is caused by fracking. 175,000 safe wells over 60 years sounds quite impressive until you realize that the industry has manipulated the regulation to keep even the possibility of safety hazards out of the public eye. A piece like this takes its readers as gullible, as it asks us to research 'facts,' while hiding the -fact- that this industry has routinely showed that it has a vested interest in keeping the actual facts out of the public eye.

  • Bruno Marcocchio
    November 06, 2013 - 09:18

    This is an insulting, misleading letter. Only selected (by industry) chemicals have ever been disclosed. NEVER has full disclosure of fracking fluids been made public. There is abundant evidence of groundwater contamination (11% of wells leak, more as the well ages). Fracking (multi directional) is only a decade old and produces huge volumes of toxic effluent. Lies and half truths about fracking are a disgrace and speaks to the integrity of the industry.

  • jeremiah
    November 06, 2013 - 08:46

    That is one side of the story.... the vested intrest side. It is mostly BS and a volly by those with financial intrest in the process without regard for the environment or anything else other than money. Take it for what it is..BS.

  • Gravels Connection
    November 06, 2013 - 08:28

    What a glowing testimony by CAPP, according to their narrative we should all have a benign high pressure slickwater hydraulic fracturing operation set up in our very own backyard. After all, according to the oil and gas industry there is not one problem with water contamination and of course "best practices" will ensure safety and while the oil and gas industry is at it, why not turn over our tourism and the fishery to them and let them run it as a cottage industry. Facts: water contamination is real ... Check out "Alberta Voices" .... If you Google that site you will also be informed as to the health risks that are associated with fracking. The oil and gas industry can spin a wonderful narrative ... But it is just that! A story .... plain and simple ... And oh yes ..... We can't forget the reference to our Atlantic neighbors to the west in New Brunswick .... They just can't wait for fracking to come in and set up shop. Quite amazing! Recently a young Nler said to me, "Do the oil companies think we are stupid! They keep telling us fairy tales!" Yip folks ... "Once upon a time ..... " Check out the facts .... We live in the age of communication where propaganda can be easily eviserated with the tap of a mouse. Don't be fooled by slick talk.

    • Tim Jamison
      November 07, 2013 - 12:44

      A hydraulic fracturing site set up in your backyard would be the best thing that ever happened to you and your tune would change drastically with a one or two million dollar cheque in your pocket.