Watch out! Industry’s requested “Blanket Approval” coming soon to an Alberta community near you; AER says it will “reduce the need for public hearings.”

New ‘play-based’ fracking rules to reduce industry footprint by Sheila Pratt, July 4, 2014, Edmonton Journal
Oil and gas companies fracking in the Fox Creek area will be first to operate under new rules requiring plans for an entire region, not individual wells, says the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The Duvernay shale reservoir west of Whitecourt was chosen as a pilot project for new “play-based” approval process which aims to reduce the industry footprint of pipelines and roads on the landscape says Cal Hill, AER vice-president of the strategy and regulatory division. Under play-based regulations, companies have to get together and produce an overall plan for a region demonstrating collaboration on roads, pipelines and water usage.

The AER will look for a single application for projects by several companies, said Hill. The current approach — approving each company’s applications separately — makes it difficult to reduce the cumulative environmental impacts of the additional roads and pipelines required by each new project. Area landowners and communities will benefit from a regional approach because “they can get a sense of the full scope of development and have earlier input,” said Hill.

The regulator is keen to move quickly as shale play in west central Alberta is about to take off, he added.

Extracting oil and gas out of shale requires many more wells, more pipes and much more water usage than conventional oil production and that impact needs to be managed better. “It’s a very competitive industry and we have to figure out how can we incent and encourage collaboration,” he added.

Hill said the goal of the new approach is to resolve issues earlier and therefore reduce the need for public hearings.

“There still has to be ample opportunity for people to have a say,” he said.

“The door (for a hearing) will be open to someone is directly and adversely affected but we hope to use it less.”

The AER wants play-based regulation fully in effect in 2015 — though it is not likely to apply to oilsands mining projects, he added. [Emphasis added]

2014 01 Duvernay Alberta's Rock Star Play Accelerated development

Rock Star? The Duvernay may be Alberta’s next big play in Daily Oil Bulletin, January 2014

Getting ahead of the Curve, Alberta regulators, companies preparing for accelerated Duvernay activity by Lynda Harrison, January 2014, Daily Oil Bulletin

“The fracturing techniques used for early exploration in this area are larger scale, says Willard, adding that, as such, the amount of water used for an individual well is probably the highest in this area of the province. For example, outside the City of Calgary in the Cochrane-Lochend area, operators use about 1,000-2,000 cubic metres of water when performing a slick-water fracture of a tight Viking horizontal well, whereas in the North Duvernay it might require 50,000 cubic metres of water per horizontal well, he says.

“Obviously, when you have multiple wells, that starts to add up. It is however, a relatively small about of water if you are able to capture and store spring snow runoff, so there are opportunities to use large volumes in a sustainable way,” says Willard, adding there may be some deeper saline water present. [Emphasis added]

Alberta Energy Regulator pilots play-based regulation project Press Release by AER, July 2, 2014

This fall, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will pilot a play-based regulatory framework for unconventional oil and gas development in the province. The AER kicked off the Play-Based Regulation (PBR) pilot project with the release of an Application Guide for use in an area of the Duvernay shale play near Fox Creek, Alberta. …

Under the project, the AER will be accepting single applications for energy development which may include many activities governed by different pieces of legislation.

The AER’s PBR pilot project is the first step in moving toward the implementation of a proposed new regulatory framework for regulating unconventional oil and gas development. [Deregulation, wrapped up in Synergy]

Report shows helicopter pilot was drunk before fatal crash in northern Alberta by Canadian Press, July 4, 2014, Calgary Herald
FOX CREEK, Alta. – An investigation has determined a helicopter pilot was drunk when he died in a crash in northern Alberta last year. A report by the Transportation Safety Board says the unnamed man had a blood alcohol level of about .35 — more than four times the legal limit for driving a vehicle. “This amount of alcohol was more than sufficient to cause major impairment of judgment and performance,” said the report, released Friday. “While piloting the helicopter under the influence of alcohol, the pilot made flight control inputs that caused the main rotor blade to contact the cabin and precipitate the in-flight breakup.”

The chopper, owned by Gemini Helicopters of Grande Prairie, was monitoring well sites when it went down on Jan. 27, 2013, in a wooded area near Fox Creek, about 260 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

The board said the pilot had been with the company for nearly two years but hadn’t been following proper procedures before the crash. He didn’t file a flight plan that day and hadn’t filed itineraries on several other flights that week. The night before, he drank three or four beers at a work camp. The day of the crash, he visited several oil sites then landed — after three approaches — at one site’s security gate.

“The pilot was observed to be staggering and smelling of alcohol,” the report said. “On being questioned, the pilot uttered some derogatory remarks.”

He flew off with an unauthorized passenger and spent 48 minutes at a remote cabin, where investigators later found an empty wine bottle and liquor bottle.

The pilot then dropped his only passenger back at the same security gate, before flying off erratically.

He crashed five minutes later.

A team of RCMP officers, firefighters and military searched the area on foot and by plane, and found the wreckage the next day. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

WARNING! Synergy and blanket approval to give industry free-for all fracking in Alberta! Watch out Fox Creek and the rest of Canada, Synergy is brainwashing controlled by industry, incredibly evil and works well

Nikiforuk: What’s Missing from Canada’s Academic Fracking Debate? “The Gritty Truth.” Qu’est-ce qui manque dans le débat sur la fracturation hydraulique au Canada?

Synergy Alberta Propaganda Group SPOG announces fracking open house Apr. 8 to release voluntary frac “best practices” to make Albertans go back to sleep

ERCB and AESRD [“Alberta Health Couldn’t make it”] answers questions about fracking

Alberta researchers to record ground vibrations to look for fracking quakes

Kimberly Mildenstein of Eagle Hill Alberta Spared Criminal Record for Uttering Threats after Numerous Concerns to the Energy Resources Conservation Board Were Ignored

February 2012: Alberta Plays Catch-up on Frack Front

Regulator acknowledges water risks….

Cal Hill, executive manager of the Regulatory Development Branch of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB, now AER) said his agency is now actively investigating four (the ERCB later corrected that figure to five) well blow-outs caused by horizontal multi-stage hydraulic fracking…. The Alberta regulator did not announce an investigation until a January 2011 fracturing incident made global headlines. That remarkable event sent oil and fluid spurting out of an existing well 1.2 km away from the oil shale well being fractured near Innisfail, Alberta….

Methane is buoyant and looking for a way up to the surface, explained Hill “There is an expectation you are going to find some signal in groundwater,” he added. …

“We are working for full fluid disclosure,” said Hill…. [As of this post, full fluid disclosure is not yet happening, anywhere in Alberta. When citizens ask for full disclosure, companies and regulators are uncooperative, despite public proclamations that chemical disclosure is provided upon request.]

Moreover, Hill admitted that he knew of no toxic fluids “that are prohibited” in the province.

“Nothing specific” has been set aside for additional monitoring admitted Hill.

Asked if the ERCB would implement recommendations proposed by noted researcher Karlis Muehlenbachs on hydraulic fracturing, Hill remained non-committal. … Muehlenbachs, a global expert on gas leaks from wellbores, recently recommended at a Washington, D.C. conference that regulators do rigorous gas and water testing prior to fracturing formations. [Emphasis added]

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