More drilling wells? by Caroline Zentner, January 28, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
On the heels of Friday’s report by No Drilling Lethbridge about the size of Goldenkey Oil’s mineral leases, Lethbridge NDP spokeswoman Shannon Phillips wonders what MLA Greg Weadick knew about it. Goldenkey Oil’s mineral interests encompass an area of roughly 23 square kilometres in the southwest section of the city, an area that includes Paradise Canyon, Riverstone, Sunridge, Mountain Heights, part of Varsity Village, Copperwood and parts of the river valley. The area comprises about 4,000 homes.
“It’s much larger than the maps that Goldenkey Resources provided the people of Lethbridge. It’s the government that sells these mineral leases . . . so the PC MLA for the area ought to have known that the land from underneath 10,000 people’s feet was sold in a mineral lease to a company. Those are very, very serious questions because we know that once companies get to the regulatory stage that this energy regulator, generally speaking, rubber stamps oil and gas development applications,” Phillips said Monday morning. Weadick, Lethbridge West MLA says he didn’t know the extent of Goldenkey Oil’s mineral leases and MLAs are not informed when mineral rights within his constitutency are leased. “We found out about the whole issue in October when the media made public that there was an application and subsequent to that, there was the meeting in Galt Gardens. That was the first that we knew that there was even proposed drilling in west Lethbridge or the name of the company that would be doing it,” Weadick said.
He attended Goldenkey’s public meeting at the Lodge Hotel. “At that point they were talking about drilling three exploratory wells so that’s what we had based our discussions on,” Weadick said. “We’ve been concerned right from day one about any drilling or fracking in the city limits or even adjacent to the city limits where it could impact the citizens in Lethbridge or future development in Lethbridge or health and safety.” But the size of the mineral lease concerns Phillips because, if the exploratory wells produce positive results, the potential for more wells increases. She said Weadick should be advocating publicly for the province to buy back the mineral lease, similar to what happened in Fort McMurray last summer.
Last July, the province announced the establishment of an Urban Development Sub-region around Fort McMurray to allow for growth. The lands belong to the Crown and the province cancelled any leases that weren’t compatible with urban development, such as oilsands leases, and compensated those holding the leases. As the province grows, conflicts between municipalities and resource development will only escalate but Weadick said the government is making its way forward. “The Energy minister has fast-tracked [It’s a slow fast-track] the issue of putting a task force together to look at urban drilling across the province,” Weadick said. “As we do the (Municipal Government Act) review, one of the areas that I’m sure will be under discussion is the role of municipalities under the MGA in any and all developments in their communities.” He admits changes might come too late to affect Goldenkey’s application in Lethbridge but he said he continues to talk to his colleagues, the premeir and caucus about the issue. He’s also been encouraging people to register their opposition using a form available on the Alberta Energy Regulator website. [The regulator doesn’t accept objections until applications are filed]
Meanwhile David Hill, regulatory consultant for Goldenkey Oil, said the company has always been up front about its mineral interests in the area. “At no time were we trying to hide our mineral position,” Hill said, adding the map showing the leases was shared at public open houses. “I have told people, right down to the section number, of what we hold. “We certainly told the city, we verbally mentioned it at the open house.” Hill said maybe two people out of 80 who attended the open house asked about Goldenkey Oil’s mineral position. Goldenkey obtained the mineral rights in March, 2011. The company was granted a one-year extension to March of this year after the lease expired last March. In addition to the mineral leases it purchased for $500,000, Goldenkey paid a private company for seismic data from the area. Hill couldn’t give a specific amount but said it would be at least equal to the mineral lease. Goldenkey hasn’t yet applied to the AER but Hill said the plan is to apply before the end of March.
Hill said he’s extended invitations to the mayor and city council for a meeting to discuss the city’s development concerns, perhaps using the new Private Surface Agreements Registry through the AER. [Refer below] “I have not had any call from the city,” Hill said.
In a rural application Goldenkey would probably apply for just one well, drill it and then perhaps follow up with additional applications.
“In this case the regulator wanted us to apply for as much as we possibly felt comfortable with, including wells, pipelines and facilities, which is very unusual because you don’t usually apply for everything at the same time because you don’t know what you have,” Hill said. “Every time you make an application you have to do a public engagement procedure and open houses and all that so it’s a lot more efficient if they decide to have a hearing then, instead of having six hearings, you have one hearing.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
2011 04 11 Letter from ERCB’s Laurie Wilson-Temple, Manager, Applications Branch to Ernst regarding her objections to Encana drilling under her already dangerously methane contaminated land:
“Therefore, based on all the information before the Board, it does not appear that you have rights or interests that may be directly and adversely affected by approval of the Applications. Accordingly, the Board has considered that you have not met the test to trigger and participate in a hearing of the Applications under section 26 of the ERCB hereby dismisses your objections. Please note the Board will continue to process the Applications and may approve same without further notice to you.” [Emphasis added]
Encana survey of the 2-13-27-22-W4M gas well directionally drilled under the Ernst land in 2011. Encana incorrectly mapped the Ernst residence and did not map the dangerously contaminated Ernst water well.
Yellow = boundary of Ernst property. The coloured dots were added to show the following:
Red = Alberta Research Council and Encana incorrect mapping of the Ernst water well in the Research Council’s 2007 review of Alberta Environment’s water contamination investigation of the Ernst well. (Kevin Pilger, Alberta Environment investigator with 20 years experience at the time, entered the Ernst property without giving her notice to GPS the location and elevation of the water well. Ernst FOIP’ed for this data only to be refused.) The Research Council ignored Encana’s shallow perfs and fracs of concern to Ernst, notably directly into the Rosebud drinking water aquifers, and found:
- Encana to be innocent, while admitting there was mixing of the company’s coalbed methane in the Ernst water; and
- Nature to be guilty, while admitting that did not explain where the methane came from.
Turquoise = where the Ernst water well is in reality.
Lime = Where Encana incorrectly mapped the Ernst water well on surveys for other gas wells to be frac’d above the Base of Groundwater Protection nearby.
Encana’s mapping of the Ernst residence is also incorrect and varies survey to survey.
ERCB Lawyer to Ernst, April 24, 2012: However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids