Adviser: Gas could be Nova Scotia windfall6/1/2012
STELLARTON — The development of onshore natural gas could create a financial windfall for Nova Scotia but more exploration must come first, says a senior adviser for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Angie Leonard made the comment Thursday while speaking to the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting.
As energy demands continue to increase it makes sense to pursue a variety of options to meet those demands, said Leonard. That means taking the time to determine what, if any, natural gas resources exist in the province and if it is accessible.
If it is there and accessible, it would mean new jobs and a direct and indirect infusion of money into communities with drilling operations, Leonard said.
Based on established projects in other parts of the country and estimates of what might be available in New Brunswick, she said about 13 full-time equivalent positions would be created for each well constructed.
But the development of onshore natural gas is not without controversy and not all of Leonard’s audience was receptive to her message.
Extracting natural gas from shale rock can require hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The process involves pumping millions of gallons of water and a small amount of a chemical substance called frack fluid into the ground. As the rock bed shifts, natural gas is released from cracks and is captured.
The process is opposed by many as an environmental hazard.
Although New Brunswick is moving ahead with such operations, the Nova Scotia government announced it would wait up to another year before deciding if it will permit the practice and, if it does, what regulations will have to be followed.
Leonard said her group supports the process the Dexter government is following. Given that things remain in the exploratory stages, there’s no certainty fracking would be used, she said.
“There is a bit of an unknown. Companies will just have to wait and see what the Nova Scotia government comes up with and then assess whether it’s a jurisdiction that they want to proceed operating with.”
The most frequent concerns from people who oppose the efforts — and some of them were voiced Thursday — include potential impacts on ground water, property values, the tourism industry and whether or not companies might cut and run in the face of trouble.
Leonard said her industry is more than capable of being a good neighbour and that is already happening in other parts of the country. A lot of opposition, she said, is rooted in outdated information or examples from countries with weaker regulations than Canada.
“We are 100 per cent committed to doing this in a safe way,” she said.
“Some people may accept that, some people may not, but we are a very fact-based industry. We have to do things in a proper way. We follow regulations and the fact is Canada is a world leader in natural gas development and exploration.”
Leonard said her industry supports baseline water testing and setbacks requirements.
Chamber officials the presentation was an education opportunity.
The chamber does not have an official stance on the subject.
(The Chronicle Herald)