BC targets hydraulic fracturing, aims for more openness

BC Premier Christy Clark speaks with attendees at an oil and gas conference in Fort Nelson, BC.
BC Premier Christy Clark speaks with attendees at an oil and gas conference in Fort Nelson, BC.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has announced a plan which will increase the transparency around hydraulic fracturing practices used by the natural gas industry.

Starting in Jan. 2012, an online registry - accessible to everyone - will allow visitors to search for the locations of where hydraulic fracturing activities are taking place, and for detailed information about the practices and additives used during these activities.

"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," said Premier Clark. "Now, all British Columbians will have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the industry's operations."

The announcement, made at the Oil and Gas Conference has the support of the natural gas industry. In response to concerns expressed about hydraulic fracturing practices, and the demand for greater transparency, industry will voluntarily disclose details about hydraulic fracturing additives in advance of the registry's official launch. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers announced details about industry's commitments to safe and responsible hydraulic fracturing practices earlier today.

"Canadian natural gas producers have created new guiding principles for hydraulic fracturing to guide water management and improve water and fluids reporting practices. CAPP principles articulate industry's water management objectives and water protection practices, as well as our focus on improving water performance over time," said CAPP president Dave Collyer. "Industry supports the government of B.C. in its move to improve disclosure. CAPP's principles apply nationally providing the same type of transparency to shale gas developments regardless of jurisdiction."

British Columbia's online registry is a part of a broader piece of work to ensure water is protected and conserved as shale gas development occurs. It is important to note there has never been an incident of harm to groundwater from hydraulic fracturing operations within British Columbia.

In British Columbia, industry is currently required to maintain a record of components used for hydraulic fracturing activities, and upon request, provide these details to the BC Oil and Gas Commission. B.C.'s regulations, updated last year, have strengthened the Commission's ability to oversee operations. The development of British Columbia's huge shale gas deposits is being done safely and responsibly within the Province's advanced regulatory framework - a model for other jurisdictions globally.

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