Quebec tables bill to block shale gas fracking

English translation of Press Release Bill banning some activities linked to shale gas: an evanescent, incoherent and unsatisfactory moratorium (below) by Amis du Richelieu, May 16, 2013
“To ban shale gas without banning shale oil is a troubling inconsistency, says Sébastien Rioux, spokesperson for Trois-Pistoles. A moratorium project on gas fracking that limits itself to “the St. Lawrence Lowlands”, it’s completely incoherent. As if the Gaspésie Region and Anticosti Island were not part of our country! We need a project that embraces the whole of Quebec and all kinds of fracking.” he insists.

Projet de loi interdisant certaines activités liées aux gaz de schiste UN MORATOIRE ÉVANESCENT, INCOHÉRENT, INSATISFAISANT COMMUNIQUÉ by Moratoire d’une Génération and Pétroliques anonymes of Rivière-du-Loup, May 15, 2013

Quebec Fracking Ban Would Impose 5-Year Moratorium In St. Lawrence River Valley by The Canadian Press, May 15, 2013,

Gaz de schiste: Québec veut imposer son moratoire jusqu’à l’adoption d’un régime législatif by Alexandre Shields, May 15, 2013, Le Devoir
Even though there is a moratorium, the oil industry will nevertheless be able to keep on doing exploratory activities, like for example on Anticosti Island. “They won’t be able to say that I am an obstacle to all of the projects” of gas and oil exploration on the entire Quebec territory, said Minister Blanchet.

Quebec government tables legislation to limit shale-gas exploration by the Canadian Press, May 15, 2013, CTV News
The Quebec government has tabled legislation which could impose a moratorium on exploration for shale gas in the St. Lawrence River valley during the next five years. The bill would prohibit drilling, hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — as well as injection tests. … The minority Parti Quebecois government will have to get the support of one of the other parties in the legislature for the bill to pass. Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said the government should wait for the results of the public hearings. He accused the government of “managing by moratorium.” Coalition Leader Francois Legault said the government is trying to please its supporters with a position based more on ideology than science.

Blanchet presents bill to ban shale gas activities in St. Lawrence Lowlands by Kevin Dougherty, May 15, 2013, Montreal Gazette
Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet presented Bill 37 on Wednesday to prohibit shale gas exploration and production activities in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. The ban would remain in force for five years. Blanchet admitted that a moratorium declared by the Charest government was in place. And he reinforced measures restricting shale gas activities earlier this year, giving the province’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) an added mandate to study shale gas once a two-year scientific study of the safety of shale gas development is completed. But answering reporters’ questions, he said in spite of the “very restrictive” regulations in place, only allowing hydraulic fracturing for “research” purposes, he was responding to concerns by citizens that fracking — the process of injecting a cocktail of chemicals and sand under pressure to break up shale rock formations, releasing gas — could go ahead. “We are establishing a real, complete moratorium beforehand to stop anyone, if that happens, from going ahead,” the minister said, adding that he is aware of the concerns because his Johnson riding is in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Asked why the legislated moratorium — to remain until a new law setting the rules for hydrocarbon exploration and production comes into force — does not cover the whole province, Blanchet said fracking activity to extract gas is not being considered elsewhere. Shale gas deposits are in the Utica shale formation, he replied, and that formation does not extend to Anticosti Island or the Gaspé, where exploration is underway. Reminded that promoters propose fracking to extract shale oil on Anticosti Island, Blanchet said his immediate priority is the St. Lawrence Lowlands, but that the government is working on a plan to deal with oil exploration and development on sparsely populated Anticosti Island as well.

Shale gas exploration and development have been criticized because the use of fracking has been associated in the United States with contamination of groundwater. Before he became a minister, Blanchet expressed his support for environmentalist causes. But as a minister, he said, he does not hold personal views on whether fracking can be safely done. “Taking account of my own background, my environmentalist convictions, I often refer to the expertise of the BAPE and to studies,” he said. “I will rely on science and knowledge, because it should not be my opinions that prevail.” Québec solidaire’s Amir Khadir, noting Anticosti Island has more deer than human inhabitants, said that even though “the deer on Anticosti don’t vote,” the remote area should also be protected from fracking.

André Bélisle, president of the Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique, applauded Blanchet’s introduction of Bill 37, explaining that without a formal, binding moratorium, the industry would be tempted to resume shale gas activities if natural gas prices rise. “There was no legal moratorium,” he said. Bélisle said he is also concerned about Anticosti, and wants Blanchet to protect the island from fracking, but thinks Bill 37 should be adopted first. Blanchet invited reporters to a second news conference on Wednesday, but they arrived only to be told it was cancelled, with no reason given. Between his two scheduled news conferences, Blanchet went to a weekly meeting of the Quebec cabinet, apparently anticipating cabinet approval of a regulation to protect drinking water from oil and gas exploration activities. Reporters who arrived early to the second conference were given press kits and USB keys with documents, which aides to Blanchet snatched back when the event was abruptly cancelled. Later, Blanchet summoned reporters to explain that some of his cabinet colleagues wanted to consult with local mayors before the regulation, to prohibit oil and gas drilling within 300 metres of a drinking-water source, was published. [Emphasis added]

Quebec opposition denounces fracking legislation by Rhéal Séguin and Bertrand Marotte, May 15, 2013, The Globe and Mail
Quebec government legislation imposing a moratorium on shale gas drilling and fracturing in the Lowlands of the St. Lawrence River was denounced by the opposition, but received mixed reviews from the industry and environmentalists alike. The moratorium could last five years until a law establishing new rules for hydrocarbon and exploration is adopted. Opposition parties are crying foul saying that a possible five-year moratorium could undermine major investments in the province. But the government said it wants to make sure that any future projects meet strict environmental guidelines and adequately reassures residents. The opposition said it plans to amend the bill. The Parti Québécois minority government needs opposition support to adopt the legislation, which revokes all licences and prohibits the issuing of new ones.

The bill tabled on Wednesday also calls for prison terms and stiff fines of up to $1-million for individuals and $6-million for companies found guilty of carrying out work related to shale gas exploration
in the St. Lawrence valley extending east from Montreal to Montmagny near Quebec City. While the richest and most viable natural shale gas deposits are in the Lowlands, it is also a densely populated region. The strongest opposition to exploration surfaced in many rural communities in the area in 2009 when several drilling projects were initiated. Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet explained that the bill responds to the immediate concerns raised by residents in Lowlands. He didn’t see the need to extend the moratorium to all of Quebec including Anticosti Island in the Lower St. Lawrence River region where oil exploration is already under way. “In the case of Anticosti, we aren’t talking about a densely populated region where there is a problem of social acceptability [over fracturing]” Mr. Blanchet said. … The Quebec Oil and Gas Association was relieved that the moratorium wasn’t extended to oil fracking on Anticosti as well as shale-gas exploration in the Gaspé Peninsula. But the industry lobby group expressed disappointment over the proposal, adding that it remained open to consultations with the government. “We’re not totally discouraged. Progress is being made on oil resources in the province,” said the lobby group spokesperson Lindsay Jacques-Dubé. “We feel there are many things in the bill that need to be clarified, both for the companies and for the citizens.”

While environmental groups applauded the moratorium, they criticized the decision to exclude all oil and gas projects. … Meanwhile left-wing Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir accused the PQ of caving in to oil companies by refusing to extend the moratorium to the entire industry. “The PQ government is too permissive, too weak in front of extremely strong lobbies … The responsibly of the minister is not to protect oil companies … his responsibility is to protect the environment,” Mr. Khadir said. The previous Liberal government of former premier Jean Charest adopted regulations restricting both oil and natural gas fracking exploration. According to Mr. Blanchet, the current bill sets the terms of a rigid moratorium for the Lowlands adding that an environmental review was being planned for Anticosti Island. Some companies last year halted further investment in exploration of the rich shale gas deposits in the Lowlands. Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc., for example, said last October it would put a lid on committing further capital to such projects in Quebec. Others such as Petrolia Inc., threatened to take the Gaspé municipality to court for adopting regulations that prohibited drilling within 300 metres of residential water supplies. The government adopted a similar regulation Wednesday to protect municipalities from further court action. But Mr. Blanchet was ordered by his cabinet colleagues to postpone the news conference where he planned on making the announcement. Other cabinet ministers were dismayed that Mr. Blanchet would announce a regulation before allowing public consultation from all interested parties as is normal practice for the government. “There is no dissension. The regulation has been adopted,” Mr. Blanchet insisted during a news conference that was called to explain the cancellation of his earlier news conference. “Bunch of amateurs,” stated a CAQ spokesperson after Mr. Blanchet was repeatedly mocked on social media for calling a news conference before consulting his cabinet colleagues. [Emphasis added]

Quebec tables bill to block shale gas fracking by Bertrand Marotte, May 15, 2013, The Globe and Mail
The Quebec government has tabled legislation to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the Lowlands of the St. Lawrence River. The moratorium, which could last up to five years, would remain in place until a new legislative framework for hydrocarbon exploitation in the province is set up. The Lowlands is the area where the richest and most viable deposits of shale gas are located. Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet said the proposed moratorium reflects the concerns expressed by residents. He also said it is a logical step to take until the recommendations arising from a full environmental review that is now underway are known.

Mr. Blanchet warned last February that the government remained committed to a ban on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. If the legislation is passed – the minority Parti Québécois government needs opposition support for it to get through – it means that all exploration licences will be revoked and no new ones issued. The industry lobby group expressed its disappointment over the decision but said it remains open to consultations with the government. “We’re not totally discouraged. Progress is being made on development of oil resources in the province,” said Lindsay Jacques-Dubé, spokeswoman for the Quebec Oil and Gas Association. “We feel there are many things in the bill that need to be clarified, both for the companies and for the citizens,” she added. “We’re absolutely open to work with the government to clarify these things,” she said.

The PQ government has expressed its concerns in the past over the safety and environmental impact of fracking, which involves the injection of chemicals and water deep into the ground to release natural gas from rock formations. A de facto moratorium was already in place under the previous government of Liberal premier Jean Charest. Some companies last year halted further investment in exploration of the rich shale gas deposits in the Lowlands. Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc., for example, said last October it would put a lid on committing further capital to such projects in Quebec. [Emphasis added]

PROJET DE LOI INTERDISANT CERTAINES ACTIVITÉS DESTINÉES à RECHERCHER OU À EXPLOITER DU GAZ NATUREL DANS LE SCHISTE Québec, le 15 mai 2013 – Le ministre du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs, M. Yves-François Blanchet, sera disponible pour répondre aux questions des journalistes à la suite du dépôt du projet de loi interdisant certaines activités destinées à rechercher ou à exploiter du gaz naturel dans le schiste.

Quebec government tables legislation to limit shale-gas exploration by Canadian Press, May 15, 2013 Although fracking is carried out by companies in the Gaspe and on Anticosti Island, Blanchet said the decision to limit the moratorium to the St. Lawrence lowland came because of opposition by residents to the exploration process.

Quebec Proposes Law to Ban Fracking for Up to 5 Years by Frederic Tomesco, May 15, 2013, Bloomberg
Quebec Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet introduced legislation that would ban hydraulic fracturing, drilling and testing for natural gas in the St. Lawrence River valley for as long as five years. The moratorium will be in place until a new law governing the exploration and production of hydrocarbons takes effect, or for a maximum of five years, according to a copy of the bill posted today on the government’s website. The bill would suspend all existing licenses to drill for shale gas without compensation, according to the document. Quebec’s Parti Quebecois government holds a minority of seats in the provincial legislature, meaning it needs support from at least one of the two largest opposition parties to pass laws. Francois Legault, head of Coalition Avenir Quebec, the province’s second-largest opposition party, told reporters today in televised comments that the proposed legislation is “unacceptable.” Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard also opposes a moratorium, Radio-Canada reported. Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet ruled out all shale gas exploration and production after the Parti Quebecois won the Sept. 4 election, saying the technology is unsafe.

Quebec introduces anti-fracking bill by Nicolas Van Praet, May 15, 2013, Financial Post
Quebec’s minority Parti Québécois government has introduced legislation to ban shale gas hydraulic fracturing in the farming region of the St. Lawrence Lowlands for up to five years. But it signalled it is open to resource development in other regions under the right conditions. The bill, if passed with support of one of the two opposition parties, would put a moratorium on all exploration and drilling activity in the area widely known as Quebec’s Utica formation until an environmental review on fracking is complete and the government introduces a new legislative framework governing hydrocarbons. All current permits would be suspended and no new permits issued. The government would offer no compensation to permit holders, exposing Quebec to potential legal action on behalf of resource companies. One company, Calgary-based Lone Pine Resources Inc., last year launched a lawsuit under North American Free Trade Agreement rules against Ottawa over the former Liberal provincial government’s decision to revoke oil and gas exploration permits for deposits under the St. Lawrence River. “It’s my region, my riding and I can see the issues very clearly,” Quebec environment minister Yves-François Blanchet told reporters in Quebec City Wednesday. “I see the concern that citizens have, the level that has reached. And it’s really a genuine issue of social acceptability.”

The moratorium is limited to the St. Lawrence Lowlands region and does not apply to other areas of Quebec. The PQ minister suggested his government would consider the development of each resource region separately. “There are differences in the geology between regions and, particularly, differences in population,” Mr. Blanchet said. “It will require different approaches on a case-by-case basis.” Asked in particular about the government’s position on Anticosti Island, where Junex Inc., Pétrolia Inc. and Corridor Resources Inc. have done preliminary oil exploration work, Mr. Blanchet said the PQ would make an announcement soon on the framework for resources development there. He did not elaborate. Unlike the St. Lawrence Lowlands, an agricultural area with a sizable population, Anticosti is thinly populated, with an estimated 280 residents. Thousands of deer roam the island without natural predators. Junex alone estimates that its Anticosti land permits may hold a potential of 12.2 billion barrels of oil on the island’s Macasty shale oil play, which would require fracture stimulation to access.

“The next phase is to go out there and drill some vertical wells,” Junex chief operating officer Peter Dorrins said in an interview. “We’ve identified some deeper targets in what we call conventional type reservoirs that really we find quite exciting.” Quebec’s natural resources minister, Martine Ouellet, caused an uproar last September after she suggested, less than 24 hours after getting elected, that she had difficulty seeing a day when technology would allow the safe extraction of shale natural gas. The PQ government has since softened and nuanced that statement, stating that the risk posed by fracking need to be more carefully considered in populated areas like the Lowlands. Mr. Blanchet on Wednesday declined to comment on the possible dangers of fracking, saying his personal opinions are unimportant in this case. The government’s environmental review agency, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, is conducting a review of fracking, and he urged everyone to wait for its conclusions.

Source: Amie Du Richelieu Rivière

And my conclusion as a scientist, and as an environmental biologist–
as an environmental specialist that has worked in this industry…

My conclusion is that no healthy community on this planet
would allow hydraulic fracturing because it is not safe.

It is impossible to do, even with the best rules and regulations.

Quote above from Jessica Ernst, The Consequences of Fracking 6:57 min. by CaptureMeFilms, May 21, 2012, Michigan USA

[Refer also to:

Little lawsuit, big implications for future of fracking projects

EU-Canada trade agreement threatens fracking bans

Petrolia asks Qubec Superior Court to rule on Gaspé drilling ban put in place to protect groundwater, Do decisions of municipal councils outweigh drilling rights?

Fuite de gaz sur le site du puits Haldimand no 1. Amie du Richelieu translation Gas leak at Pétrolia’s well site Haldimand 1 April 13, 2013.

Du gaz détecté à Haldimand no 1 April 12, 2013, LaPresse. Translation Gas detected Pétrolia’s Haldimand No. 1 by Amie du Richelieu

Gas in your maple syrup, Du gaz dans ton sirop

Why Can Corporate Interests Trump Sovereign Rights? Lone Pine Resources suing Quebec government trying to protect citizen health and environment from harms caused by fracking

Bouchard exits as head of Quebec’s oil and gas association

Hydraulic Fracturing in Canada, Federal Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan Reports Concerns, List of Fracking Substances in Canada Still Secret

Projects like Haldimand 4 will probably be banned, Gaspé obligerait Québec à trancher

Shale gas: the RCMP and CSIS on high alert; Les fractivistes rendent la GRC nerveuse, RCMP and CSIS watching citizens concerned about hydraulic fracturing very closely

Public vs. corporate rights: NAFTA Chapter 11 invoked in Quebec fracking decision

Greenpeace décerne le Prix d’engagement citoyen à Johanne Dion, Greenpeace honours Johanne Dion with the first civic commitment award

Feds studying eco impact of shale gas sector in Quebec amid moratorium

Canadian taxpayers could be on hook for Quebec fracking decision because of NAFTA Chapter 11 that protects corporations even if they risk health, the public interest and environment to take profit

NAFTA challenge launched over Quebec fracking ban

Shale Gas – Open letter to Lucien Bouchard by Dominic Champagne

Quebec government hints at long-term fracking ban

Questerre says won’t be affected by stricter Quebec fracking ban

Alberta companies critical of Quebec minister’s stance on fracking

Fracking banned by Quebec government

PQ government takes on three controversial industries in first day in office

Quebec Minister’s fracking comments worry Calgary companies

Quebec to seek ban on shale gas fracking: Minister “I don’t see the day when these technologies can be used in a safe way,” said Ms. Ouellet, as she walked to her first cabinet meeting Thursday in Quebec City.

Fracking tour fails to sway Quebec farmers

Quebec bans any fracking pending studies

Quebec should say no to all hydraulic fracturing: report

No fracking, even for research, recommends Quebec committee report

Groundwater contaminated with shale gas found in Quebec

Canadian Government Launches New Fracking Studies

Gaz de schiste – Québec est dans le pétrin à La Présentation

Quebec ban leaves shale gas drillers staggering

Inspectors found leaks at shale wells, government report says

Leaks found in shale gas wells: Que. Report, 31 were inspected ‘and more than half have problems,’ says envrionmental expert

A Primer for Understanding Canadian Shale Gas – Energy Briefing Note The Upper Ordovician Utica Shale is located between Montreal and Quebec City (Figure 13) and was deposited in deep waters at the foot of the Trenton carbonate platform. … Biogenic gas can be found in the Utica in shallow areas, while thermogenic methane can be found in medium-deep and structured shales (Figures 13 and 14). The reservoir has an advantage over others in that it is folded and faulted, which increases the potential for the presence of natural fractures (Figure 4). Only a handful of wells have been drilled in the Utica, most of them vertical. After fraccing, each vertical well is reported to have produced approximately 28 000 m3/d (1 MMcf/d) of natural gas. Initial results from hydraulic fracturing and flow tests from three horizontal wells have yielded stable flow rates of 2 800 to 22 700 m3/d (0.1 to 0.8 MMcf/d) from medium-deep shales, less than expected but likely influenced by the lack of equipment to extract frac-water that flowed back during production. … Finally, there are some environmental concerns with development of shale gas in Canada. Little is known about what the ultimate impact on freshwater resources will be. [Emphasis added]

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