Alberta considers new oil, gas regulations

Dec. 18, 2012 at 5:55 AM

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The provincial government in Alberta said it was looking for feedback on the regulation of future oil and natural gas development in unconventional plays.

Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board said it was looking for comments on a paper drafted to examine ways that could protect water, minimize surface effects and maximize resource recovery in unconventional developments.

"Alberta has a long history of regulating safe and responsible oil and gas development," ERCB Chairman Dan McFadyen said in a statement. "The discussion paper continues that strong record by describing a proposed regulatory approach that is innovative and progressive."

Since the practice was introduced in the province, an estimated 170,000 wells have been explored using hydraulic fracturing, a practice known also as fracking. Around 5,000 horizontal wells have been drilled since 2008.

New technologies used in unconventional plays have made new oil and natural gas reserves accessible. The ERCB said while some practices aren't completely novel, the scale has increased.

"This play-focused regulation would be performance-based to achieve specific outcomes in public safety, water protection, air quality, waste management, surface impacts, resource conservation, and orderly development," the ERCB said.

Oil prospects in particular have encouraged the Canadian government to court potential investors in Asian and European economies.

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