Canadian producers set fracking guidelines

Sept. 9, 2011 at 9:39 AM   |   0 comments

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers released a set of principles to govern the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing used to release vast reserves of natural gas.

CAPP's guidelines emphasize water management and improved disclosure of water and fluid practices for the technique of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, which involves massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals injected at high pressure to fracture rock and release natural gas.

Critics of fracking say it releases methane into the atmosphere and leaves groundwater supplies vulnerable to harmful chemicals in fracking fluid.

CAPP's announcement Thursday comes a day after New York state's environmental regulator extended by 30 days a public comment period on rules for natural gas drilling that could end the state's yearlong ban on fracking.

"Protecting Canada's water resources is fundamental to our social license to operate and to grow," said CAPP President Dave Collyer. CAPP represents most of Canada's major oil and gas producers.

"With the increase in natural gas production from unconventional sources such as shale, Canadians have told us they want more information as to how industry uses and protects water."

Studies indicate there is potentially 1,000 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the country, says Canada's National Energy Board.

Matt Horne, an analyst with environmental group Pembina Institute said that, while CAPP's move is a positive step, it doesn't replace the need for strong government regulation.

"We would certainly rather see those -- disclosure on fracturing chemicals, for example -- be required by government as opposed to being voluntary by industry," he told the Calgary Herald.

Also Thursday, British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark announced new rules aimed at increased transparency of fracking methods used in the province's natural gas industry.

Starting in January, she said, British Columbia will put a registry online showing where fracking activities are taking place along with details about the practices and the nature of the liquids injected underground as part of the gas recovery process.

"British Columbia is committed to the development of a more open and transparent natural gas sector and the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing practices and additives supports this goal," Clark said in a news release.

In a statement CAPP said it supports British Columbia's move to improve disclosure, noting that the group's principles apply nationally, providing the same type of transparency to shale gas developments regardless of jurisdiction.

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