Hydraulic fracturing stymied in Canadian East

June 6, 2016
Hydraulic fracturing remains stymied in two of Canada's Atlantic provinces.

Hydraulic fracturing remains stymied in two of Canada's Atlantic provinces.

New Brunswick has extended indefinitely a moratorium on the completion technique imposed in 2014.

And an independent panel appointed that year to assess hydraulic fracturing in Newfoundland and Labrador has refused to endorse the method.

New Brunswick moratorium

In New Brunswick, Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault said five conditions the province established for fracing have not been satisfied. The conditions call for:

• A "social license."

• "Clear and credible information" about effects of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment, and water "allowing the government to develop a country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities."

• A plan to mitigate impacts on public infrastructure and to address issues such as wastewater disposal.

• A process to respect the duty of the provincial government to consult with First Nations (aboriginal groups).

• A mechanism "to ensure that benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers, including the development of a proper royalty structure."

Arseneault said, "It is clear to us that the industry has not met the conditions." With oil and gas prices low, the industry, he added, is unlikely to "invest the necessary efforts to address the conditions in the short or medium term."

Extension of the moratorium responded to findings released in February of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, which was established in March 2015 to determine feasibility of satisfying the conditions.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers issued a statement expressing disappointment with extension of the moratorium.

The group said it provided the commission a written submission addressing the conditions.

Newfoundland and Labrador

In its final report, the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel, which examined socioeconomic and environmental implications of fracing in western Newfoundland, recommended the province extend its "pause" in the acceptance of applications.

"The panel unanimously recommends that a number of gaps and deficiencies must be addressed before the necessary conditions could exist that would allow for hydraulic fracturing, as an all-inclusive industrial process, to proceed reasonably and responsibly in western Newfoundland," it said.

The panel made 85 supplementary recommendations that it said "constitute a staged, cautious, and evidence-based approach to understanding the opportunities and challenges of unconventional oil and gas development in western Newfoundland."

Implementation of the recommendations, it said, "should allow for a better-informed decision with respect to whether hydraulic fracturing operations should be permitted in the future."