Quebec announces extensive studies to assess oil and gas potential, St. Lawrence Lowlands, Anticosti Island subjects of fracking probes by Kevin Dougherty, Gazette Quebec Bureau Chief, May 30, 2014, Montreal Gazette
Quebec’s Liberal government announced on Friday it will carry out extensive environmental studies, as a prelude to developing the province’s oil and gas potential. A general strategic environmental assessment will look into the possibility of developing oil and gas deposits in rock formations where they may be found, provided they are profitable, meet the test of social acceptance, are safe and respect the environment. “We will act with prudence, transparency and in an orderly manner, in the best interests of the Quebec population,” Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand said at a joint announcement with Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel,
The overall study will include the St. Lawrence Lowlands region, between Montreal and Quebec City, where about two million people live and where the province’s best farmland is found.
Citizen opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas from deep shale formations in the Montreal-to-Quebec City region led to a halt in exploration and a first round of environmental studies, which are still underway.
“There is no social acceptance at this time,” Arcand admitted.
Quebec officials told reporters fracking technology has advanced and safeguards can be taken to avoid the contamination of groundwater by fracking liquid, methane and national gas leaks. [What are “national gas leaks?”]
Heurtel said people living in the region will participate in the new studies.
A second strategic environmental assessment will deal with Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, populated by 230 people and 200,000 deer. … Junior exploration companies said they have found evidence of oil, worth “billions of dollars,” in the island’s substrata that could be extracted through fracking. The outgoing Parti Québécois government of Pauline Marois offered Petrolia Inc. and Corridor Resources Inc. $115 million for exploration work.
Arcand announced Friday that Quebec will pay $55 million this summer to drill about 15 stratigraphic wells on the island, examining the carats, or core samples, for signs of oil.
In summer 2015, Quebec will invest another $45 million for three exploration wells on Anticosti using the fracking technique….
Petrolia has proposed using propane, rather than water, in fracking on Anticosti.
“It is possible that we will not find oil,” Arcand said. “There is no guarantee.”
Heurtel added that even if oil is discovered on Anticosti Island, it might not be economical to develop.
Quebec officials told reporters in a background briefing the province needs more natural gas and the government is concerned it will lose a source of natural gas if TransCanada Inc. goes ahead with plans to convert a natural gas pipeline, passing through Quebec, to carry Western Canada crude oil to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick. The province intends to intervene at National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline conversion and will keep a watch over the Enbridge Inc. plan to reverse its 9B pipeline, to bring Western crude to Quebec’s refineries.
Christian Simard, of the environmentalist group Nature Québec, said the strategic environmental assessment process, relying on experts, does not allow for the same citizen participation as Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement. “It’s not credible,” Simard said.
The Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique said it approves the global approach the government is taking, and its commitment to energy efficiency and electric transport. But the environmentalist association also sees the strategy as preparing Quebecers for more oil and gas developments and more greenhouse gas emissions. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
January 13, 2014: Gaspé wants Quebec government to intervene; The Quebec Superior Court agrees with Petrolia, says Gaspé municipality can’t protect its drinking water supplies from the oil and gas industry
February 16, 2013: Canada’s environmental activists seen as ‘threat to national security’, Police and security agencies describe green groups’ protests and petitions as ‘forms of attack’, documents reveal
November 23, 2012: Canadian taxpayers could be on hook for Quebec fracking decision because of NAFTA Chapter 11 that protects corporations even if they risk health, the public interest and environment to take profit
“I don’t see the day when these technologies can be used in a safe way,” said Ms. Ouellet, as she walked to her first cabinet meeting Thursday in Quebec City. [Emphasis added]
November 1, 2009: A Primer for Understanding Canadian Shale Gas – Energy Briefing Note by the National Energy Board
The Utica Shale of Quebec has both shallow and deep sections and there is potential for both biogenic and thermogenic natural gas, respectively.
Biogenic gas can be found in the Utica in shallow areas, while thermogenic methane can be found in medium-deep and structured shales…. The reservoir has an advantage over others in that it is folded and faulted, which increases the potential for the presence of natural fractures…. Only a handful of wells have been drilled in the Utica, most of them vertical.
Finally, there are some environmental concerns with development of shale gas in Canada. Little is known about what the ultimate impact on freshwater resources will be. [Emphasis added]