Oil drilling safer than water well, insists Petroworth president

Oil drilling safer than water well, insists Petroworth president by Ryan Van Horne, July 17, 2012, Special to the Cape Breton Post
HALIFAX — Petroworth president Neal Mednick says he cannot understand why people are opposed to his company drilling near Lake Ainslie. “It will cause less damage than a water well,” he said in an interview Tuesday. The Petroworth well will have a concrete sheath around it to prevent oil from seeping out into groundwater. The sheath will go 240 metres underground, below the water table, Mednick said, adding a water well does not have this casing and can cause hydrocarbons to seep into the water table. “Why aren’t they complaining about all the water wells being drilled in the area,” he said, sounding clearly agitated while speaking on the phone from his Toronto office. Mednick was disappointed that Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice David MacAdam did not make a ruling on the appeal by the Margaree Environmental Association. The association is appealing the approval granted by Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau giving Petroworth permission to drill. The delay of the court decision has gone beyond the July 15 expiration date of Petroworth’s exploration agreement and, although Petroworth applied for an extension, it hasn’t heard back. Energy Department spokeswoman Tracy Barron said “the department is reviewing what happened in court and what it means for Petroworth and the impact on its lease application.” Unless the exploration agreement is extended, Petroworth cannot drill. Even if it is extended, it’s unlikely they would go ahead and drill while still waiting for a ruling from the court. “We don’t have a lot of choice,” Mednick said. “We expected a ruling today.” Mednick said the delays are costly to his company and have pushed back drilling plans. “We’re being held hostage by the environmentalists,” he said. Mednick said that because of the presence of cottages in the area, his company adopted a policy of not drilling between Canada Day and Labour Day. “Our hope is to be drilling by September or October, but we need a ruling from the court,” he said. “I don’t know how long we can wait.

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