Part 2: CBM checks, balances in place say government officials, the EUB and oil and gas industry by Shawne Mohl, March 21, 2006, Innisfail Province
According to government officials and industry professionals the production of coal bed methane (CBM) in Alberta will never impact or harm the environment, the ground water supply, or one’s health. … The things which the speakers say have occurred in the United States could never and will never happen here, says Bob Curan, spokesperson for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) spokesperson. “I don’t know what the guidelines are like in Colorado or any of these other places (in the United States). But what I can tell you is this: the things they are alleging have happened in the U.S. could not happen in Alberta without severe repercussions to any company that dared to perpetrate those types of things. It just wouldn’t happen here. Companies know that if they break the rules they will suffer consequences,” Curran said.
One company who knows the guidelines and rules they must follow very well is MGV Energy, whose main business is drilling CBM wells throughout Central Alberta. Doreen Rempel of MGV Energy, who was present at the recent CBM meeting held in Trochu, said that her company works very closely with the government and land owners to ensure that everything is being done to protect everyone’s interests. “The impacts of CBM are very minimal,” Rempel said. She said the guidelines and regulations MGV Energy has to comply by wouldn’t make it possible for an oil company in Alberta to ruin the water supply, environment, or pose any types of health risks to nearby land owners.
There is no way that a CBM well could affect one’s ground water, MGV Energy company officials say. According to Rempel, the company has a cement lining between the well and the subsurface so no containments could ever get out of the well. ‘That is a government regulated process,” she explained. “It isn’t anything new. That has been happening Alberta for decades.”
Curran said the EUB has done extensive research into a number of complaints. It has been determined that CBM production, to date in Alberta, has not been the reason why some water wells have appeared to lose pressure or the quality has decreased, he said. “There is no evidence to support (affecting water wells),” he said. “We are a very vigilant and strict regulator. Any suggestion that somehow these companies can come in and do things that would allow them to comprise the quality of ground water, under our rules is simply
Curran says in the Rosebud area where concerned resident Jessica Ernst lives, there has been methane found in the water wells in that area for decades, long before CBM production came into the picture. “In the Rosebud area because a lot of water wells in completed in coal seams they have had methane in water wells for decades. It’s a common problem and actually just about anywhere in Alberta because you could drill down just about anywhere in Alberta and hit a coal seam because we have that much coal in this province.”
The EUB is a very strict regulator, Curran says. And even though there are no specific regulations that relate to CBM production, there are ample rules which will ensure no oil and gas production of any kind will affect the environment, he said. “One of the things you are hearing is somehow there are no regulations. … All these regulations are designed to protect ground water, protect aquifers, he said.
“We have the fracturing directive out. We don’t have specific CBM, but we have regulations that pertain to drilling wells in a variety of categories, under which CBM would fall, specifically shallow gas drilling,” he said. “All the rules that are in place for shallow gas drilling in Alberta, which we have a tremendous amount, all hold true for CBM drilling as well.” [Emphasis added]
Part 1: CBM concerns ignited by Shawne Mohl, March 14, 2006, Innisfail Province
Jessica Ernst who lives in the hamlet of Rosebud, near Drumheller was also one of the keynote speakers. Ernst owns a 50-acre parcel of land, just outside of Rosebud and says since an oil company has been drilling CBM wells around her property…her water quality has gone from being drinkable to being inflamable. Since the drilling of CBM wells in her area has commenced Ernst says that she has numerous rashes from showering and using the water to wash her clothes in. “It’s really hard to believe that you are being poisoned by your own water”
Ernst explained that typically fracturing of CBM was only allowed when it’s below the base of groundwater protection area. She accused the company drilling in her area of shallow drilling and fracturing which is causing her water to become contaminated. She added the fracturing is causing water levels to drop. … “Anyone can make a difference,” she said. “Write letters and tell them what you want. We are their bosses. They are not ours. Protect your water and don’t let the regulators tell you what to do.”