The Canadian Province of Newfoundland & Labrador mandated an independent panel to conduct a public review and advise the Minister of Natural Resources on the socio-economic and environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing in Western Newfoundland. The panel has now issued its report.

In November 2013 the Province imposed a “pause” in processing approvals of hydraulic fracturing of onshore and onshore-to-offshore wells in Western Newfoundland. The pause was to allow for a review of regulations in other jurisdictions, technical work to assess the local geology and to allow for public consultation.

The Port au Port Bay area in Western Newfoundland contains the Green Point shale which is thought to contain an estimated 150 million barrels of recoverable oil and 75 BCF of gas. Industry had proposed seismic in the area.

The panel’s report does not provide a simple yes or no recommendation as to whether hydraulic fracturing should be allowed. Instead, it identified a number of gaps and deficiencies that need to be addressed and recommended some supplementary measures be implemented and that the regulatory “pause” continue.

A total of 85 recommendations have been made by the panel, including the undertaking of a minimal risk, pilot-scale well stimulation program to understand how the Green Point shale responds to hydraulic fracturing.

The government has reportedly assembled a team to study the panel’s report and consider its recommendations.

A copy of the panel’s report can be found http://nlhfrp.ca/.