In the world of Environmental Contracting, we are finding that there are challenges on the horizon that we should be preparing for now. There are two specific areas where we need to focus moving forward.
While horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracking (fracturing rock to allow formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons and/or gases to “flow” and accumulate in collection wells) are not new technologies they are becoming so widespread that the industry has been revolutionized from Texas, USA to British Columbia, Canada. The International Energy Agency has predicted that the US will become a major exporter from tight oil and shale gas production. The challenges we are facing include community concerns with the possibility of poisoning the local water supply or the chance that fracking could be causing small earthquakes.
Canada has been fracking in Alberta for almost 5 years now and now has approximately 5,000 wells that have been fracked. After a well blowout near Innisfil which resulted in about 500 barrels of oil and water being released into a field after systems failed in communication between two wells, regulators have refined their focus. Industry groups have joined together to develop industry-wide best practices with new rules and updates to existing regulations.
After nearly 45 years of commercial oilsands production, the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan has been put in place to oversee development of this vast resource. An environmental review in 2012, as part of the Shell's Jackpine mine expansion, has explored the issue of cumulative effects in our environment. In response, the Alberta Energy Regulator has been tasked with oversight and the industry has announced the establishment of the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). They will be responsible for addressing environmental concerns. Shell has decided to proceed with its Quest Carbon Capture Program to offset greenhouse gas emissions generated from its oils ands operations.
At FERRO Canada, environmental contracting in a responsible manner is Job #1. Contact us when you have questions about how your project may be effecting the environment and to find ways to lessen that impact.