New Brunswick: Five conditions will need to be met before government lifts moratorium on all forms of fracking

Shale gas moratorium details unveiled by Brian Gallant, Five conditions will need to be met before government lifts moratorium on all forms of fracking by CBC News, December 18, 2014
A moratorium on all forms of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick is being put in place by Brian Gallant’s government. The bill to impose the moratorium is to be introduced in the legislature on Thursday afternoon. “We have been clear from day one that we will impose a moratorium until risks to the environment, health and water are understood,” said Gallant.

Gallant told a news conference the moratorium will be applied to hydraulic fracturing through any means, regardless of whether the process uses water, propane or another substance to extract natural gas from shale rock beneath the earth’s surface.

The moratorium won’t be lifted until five conditions are met, said Gallant.

Those conditions include:

  • A “social licence” be established through consultations to lift the moratorium;
  • Clear and credible information on the impacts on air, health and water so a regulatory regime can be developed;
  • A plan to mitigate impacts on public infrastructure and address issues such as waste water disposal is established;
  • A process is in place to fulfill the province’s obligation to consult with First Nations;
  • A “proper royalty structure” is established to ensure benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers.

Gallant said there will be no `grandfathering’ of projects already underway that allows fracking to take place outside of the moratorium.

Jean-Guy Leclair, general manager of PotashCorp New Brunswick said in a release his company would have to consider its options. [Sue under NAFTA for lost possible future profits?] “What PotashCorp needs is access to a secure, stable supply of natural gas, regardless of the source,” the release read. “If this moratorium removes a source of supply, we will have to review what it means for our operations. It could have a serious impact on our costs.” Leclair said it would be premature to talk about what their options are.

Shale gas companies will be permitted to continue with exploration activities such as seismic testing or drilling wells. But they will not be permitted to frack those test wells while the moratorium is in place. Gallant had stated earlier the moratorium bill would be introduced in the legislature before Christmas. The last sitting day before Christmas for the legislature is expected to be Friday or next Tuesday. Gallant has long promised a moratorium that would prohibit hydraulic fracturing to produce shale gas until more is known about any potential risks to people’s health, the water supply and the environment.

The moratorium announcement drew praise from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “We’re proud of Premier Brian Gallant and his cabinet for standing firm to protect water and clean air,” said Stephanie Merrill, the environmental organization’s freshwater protection program co-ordinator. “Placing a moratorium on shale gas development shows that premier Gallant is serious about protecting the environment, particularly our water.”

The moratorium was a key plank in the campaign platform that lifted Gallant’s Liberals to victory in the provincial election in September. [Emphasis added]

N.B. fracking moratorium raises industry ire by The Canadian Press, December 18, 2014

The provincial government introduced legislation that would prohibit fracking throughout the province until concerns about health, the environment and First Nations input are addressed.

Gallant placed conditions on the legislation including a process to consult with First Nations, a plan that mitigates the impact on public infrastructure and addresses waste water disposal and credible information about the effects fracking has on health, water and the environment.

The development of a royalty structure and a “social licence” ensuring that the public accepts fracking are also needed before the moratorium would be removed, Gallant said, though he acknowledged that last condition has yet to be defined.

“We have been clear from Day 1 that we will impose a moratorium until risks to the environment, health and water are understood,” Gallant told a news conference in Fredericton. “We believe these conditions to be very reasonable.”

He said his government supports job creation but added that it needs to be done in a diversified and sustainable way. “We’re not interested in putting all of our eggs in a single basket,” he said.

A number of companies are exploring for shale gas in the province and Corridor Resources recently fracked wells in the Penobsquis area that are used to supply gas to the nearby Potash Corp. mine.

Gallant said such operations would be allowed to continue under the legislation, as long as they don’t rely on fracking.

“We’ll certainly also always listen to businesses that may have concerns and try to mitigate some of the impacts if they believe (them) to be negative on their operations,” he said.

Sheri Somerville, a natural gas adviser with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the industry is disappointed with the government’s decision. “We’ve been saying all along that a moratorium is unwarranted and that we’ve been doing this safely here in New Brunswick for at least a decade and in other jurisdictions in Canada for more than 60 years,” Somerville said. She said each energy company operating in the province will have to make its own decision on how to react but there are concerns that it could put a halt to exploration. “This could certainly have a detrimental impact on future investment and industry progress for the province.” she said. “It might result in a missed opportunity.”

Corridor Resources president Steve Moran said his company doesn’t support the moratorium. “We have always maintained that a moratorium is not necessary for an industry that has operated responsibly and safely in this province,” Moran said Thursday in a statement. He said the conditions cited by the premier are not clear enough. “They do not provide a predictable path forward. In addition, New Brunswick already has clear and robust regulations in place under which the industry operates safely.”

Moran said Corridor Resources and its partners have spent more than $500 million exploring for oil and natural gas in New Brunswick since 1995, drilling 46 wells and completing 120 hydraulic fracture stimulations. He said the company believes there is a huge gas potential in the province but will only determine that by drilling and fracking more wells. 

Mark D’Arcy of the Council of Canadians, who has attended anti-shale gas rallies across the province, said he believes many New Brunswickers support the government’s decision. “This is a great Christmas present,” he said. [Emphasis added]

This entry was posted in Global Frac News. Bookmark the permalink.