I have worked in the natural resource industry in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia most of my professional career which spans over 40 years. The developing of the unconventional natural gas resources for the economic benefit of all New Brunswickers can be accomplished in a safe and environmentally friendly way. I do not consider myself a "fracing expert", but I have been involved in the natural gas resource exploration and development industry long enough to witness that development of these resources can be done in a safe and environmentally responsible manner following the regulations that are in place both on the Federal and Provincial regulatory level.
The recent controversy over the fracing issue appears to stem from the documentary "Gasland" that is full of misinformation about the petroleum industry and misleading in its representation of facts. It tends to sensationalize the lack of or failure to abide by existing regulations in the States involved. Nevertheless is accepted as gospel by individuals who are not willing to have dialogue about the issue. This is why New Brunswick needs strict regulations with regards to hydraulic fracturing for shale gas that must be followed and enforced. I support the Province of New Brunswick's decision to undertake this review of Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas in New Brunswick at this time.
Hydraulic Fracturing has been conducted safely and successfully in the petroleum industry for over 60 years and ironically it has been used for many more years in the water well drilling industry. Hydraulic fracturing technologies have improved immensely since these early days and will continue to improve as more research and development will result in more effective, more efficient and more environmentally friendly techniques. For example, the large amounts of water that is required as a propellant for a typical slick water frac can be replaced with other propellants such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide and propane. Nitrogen has been used for many years, but more recent research has resulted in propane and carbon dioxide being used as the propellant in recent frac programs. The use of these gases has reduced or eliminated the need for chemical additives to the propellant. When talking about the "chemical additives" to the frac water used in slick water fracs, this involves 5-6 additives (not 500+!) and most are common to everyday life and make up less than 0.1% of the water propellant mixture. The additives protect the wellbore from corrosion and improve the effectiveness of the fracture stimulation.
Over 100,000 oil and gas wells have been fraced successfully in Western Canada and there has not been a single proven case of groundwater contamination as a result of a properly conducted frac operation. Good clean water and the protection of this valued provincial natural resource are of great concern to all present and future residents of New Brunswick. All companies presently conducting or planning to do exploration and development work for shale gas (as well as all other types of work) must abide by all Federal and Provincial regulations to ensure that the water resources of New Brunswick are protected. This is why this present review is essential to ensure the proper regulations are in place and total compliance of these regulations is enforced. Having the applicable regulations in place, monitoring compliance and enforcement are all essential components to a successful shale gas industry in New Brunswick.
The mandate in place for this present review covers all that is necessary for the complete review of the existing regulations and reviews of other jurisdictions across Canada and in the United States. The resulting set of recommendations to improve current provincial regulations will be submitted to the Government of New Brunswick for further review and further public comment. Then the revised regulations will be enacted and compliance will form part of the application to conduct hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in New Brunswick.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit my comments at this stage of the review. Proper regulations that are workable, enforceable and orientated to the safe development of the rich natural gas resources of New Brunswick will provide future environmental protection, water resource protection, local employment opportunities, tax and royalty revenue and a better quality of life for all New Brunswickers.
Respectively submitted, Robert MacDonald, P.Geo. November, 2015
Submitted by: Robert MacDonald, Fredericton, NB