Alberta group investigates five firms over fracking

Alberta group investigates five firms over fracking by Jerold LeBlanc, April 2012, Wetaskiwin Times, Article ID# 3524771
A provincial expert says his organization – the Energy Resources Conservation Board – is investigating five incidences in Alberta where fracking has caused environmental damage. ERCB senior advisor Bob Willard made that announcement concerning the oil and gas recovery method at the Wetaskiwin Synergy Initiative’s Fracturing 101: the facts on hydraulic fracturing held March 22 in Wetaskiwin. “We’ve had five occurrences in which the pressure was sufficient to cause the wellhead to be damaged,” said Willard to the group of more than three-dozen stakeholders. “In one or two cases, (it caused the) fluid to actually flow on the surface, not only on lease, but off lease,” said Willard. “We’re investigating those situations. We’re working with ERCB staff, Alberta Environment and Water. “In some of those cases, we’ve drilled new groundwater observation test wells to have hard data to understand the potential for impact from those five incidences. “We’re also having companies report every incidence of pressure communication. It does not require a surface impact or damage to a wellhead. “We want them to tell us when, where and why, they’ve encountered that offset well.” Willard told the special interest group that with new statistics now being requested, the group’s information databanks would expand. “Our information base will be growing significantly. “Our regulations will be responding to that information. “Obviously, these situations are a concern to a landowner, his neighbours and his community. “These investigations will be publicly reported on,” he said. “We want to minimize water use, eliminate on a case-by-case basis where possible, optimize recovery. We want to well understanding fracturing. “We want to have the right information at the right time, and we want you, as stakeholders, have access to that information. ‘We want to make sure the surface infrastructure is well planned, controlled and through co-operation between companies, in a collaborative process, not duplication of facilities. “We do have an unconventional regulatory framework project. It has been operating for some time now, looking at where in our regulations should we be doing things differently in response to this new resource, and the new technology,” Willard explained. Some of the actions Willard said ERCB would be putting in place this year involve increased early planning and increased collaboration between companies. “Those are companies that are proposing horizontal wells, but this is also collaboration, co-operations with companies that have existing wells,” he said. “Expanding information available to counties, and yourselves as landowners, as there is a need to work with counties on things like managing roads, trucks and noise. “Just the shear volume of material that has to be transported as you’ve seen it. I don’t have to tell you this, a lot more trucks on the roads. “Enhance community engagement perhaps supported by synergy initiatives like yourselves is going to have to occur.”
Also in ESAA news, week ending April 6, 2012

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