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Second edition of the Shale Gas Handbook released by Norton Rose Fulbright

On June 25, 2015, Norton Rose Fulbright released the second edition of the Shale Gas Handbook. Almost two years ago, Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers, realizing that the unconventional oil and gas phenomenon was having various results all around the world, came together to create the inaugural edition of the Shale Gas Handbook. The Shale Gas Handbook is a one of a kind, one-resource book that members of the oil and gas industry can turn to for questions about unconventional shale oil and gas drilling, production and hydraulic fracking. Since the launch of the first edition, there have been a number … Continue Reading

Northern Cross sues Yukon over fracking moratorium

Earlier this month, Northern Cross Limited, a company based in the western Canadian territory of Yukon, sued the Yukon government over its moratorium on fracking.

The company, which has been exploring the Eagle Plains region in the north of the territory, says the moratorium is a de facto “expropriation” of the company’s oil and gas interests.

The company owns fifteen exploration permits in the Eagle Plains area and has identified a wealth of unconventional resources in the region—resources that would require hydraulic fracturing to extract, the company’s Statement of Claim says.

The Yukon government, however, banned fracking in all but … Continue Reading

Researchers zero in on how fracking can cause earthquakes

A new academic study reveals two ways hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas operators can cause earthquakes in Alberta, Canada. Researchers at the University of Calgary’s Department of Geoscience have discovered that tremors induced by hydraulic fracturing can occur through pore pressure increases and by stress changes.  The study “Fault Activation by Hydraulic Fracturing” has been published in Science, one of the world’s leading peer‑reviewed academic journals.

The study has been described as revealing an “exquisitely detailed picture” of the timing and dynamics of seismic events in an area about 30 kilometers west of the town of Fox Creek, Alberta. … Continue Reading

New Brunswick Extends Fracking Moratorium Indefinitely

The Canadian Province of New Brunswick’s Energy Minister has announced that the current moratorium on hydraulic fracturing will continue indefinitely.

The moratorium was put in place in December 2014 until five conditions have been met. The five conditions to allow hydraulic fracturing are:

  • a social licence is in place;
  • clear and credible information is available about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water, allowing the government to develop a country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
  • a plan is in place to mitigate the impacts on public infrastructure and to address issues such as waste
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Newfoundland & Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel Release Report

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 … Continue Reading

Study shows fracking linked to earthquakes in western Canada

According to a study described in the March 2016 edition of the journal Seismological Research Letters, hydraulic fracturing is linked to most induced earthquakes in the Western Canadian sedimentary basin. The study looked at data for 12,289 wells which had been hydraulically fractured, 1,236 waste water disposal wells and magnitude 3 or larger seismic events in Alberta and British Columbia that occurred between 1985 and 2015.  Their analysis found that 39 hydraulically fractured wells and 17 wastewater wells could be linked to earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher.

The study also confirmed that most seismicity in Alberta and B.C. was … Continue Reading

That’s a lot of Gas!

Up to 425 trillion cubic feet. That’s a lot of gas.

A new joint study by Canada’s National Energy Board, British Columbia’s Oil and Gas Commission, the Northwest Territories’ Geological Survey and the Yukon Geological Survey estimates that shales in Canada’s Liard Basin could contain up to 425 tcf of marketable natural gas, which is about four times more than previously thought. The study indicates that the Liard Basin’s shales are among the world’s largest shale gas deposits.  The Exshaw-Patry shale in the Liard Basin is exceptional among North American shale plays as it is very deep, 100% over pressured … Continue Reading

New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing Publishes Recommendations

The Canadian Province of New Brunswick presently sources the majority of natural gas it consumes from the Sable Offshore Energy Project, but its production is slowing. The Frederick Brook shale is thought by some to contain vast reserves but it has yet to be drilled because in December 2014 the Government of New Brunswick placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.  In March 2015 it created the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing to determine if five conditions could be met to lift the moratorium.

The five conditions to lifting the moratorium are that there must be:

  • a social license in
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Quakes in Oklahoma and Canada highlight changing legal parameters for operators

Edmond, Oklahoma experienced a 4.3 magnitude quake December 29 amid a swarm of quakes the state experienced that day.  Chimneys and contents of shelves purportedly tumbled to the ground, and 4,400 individuals lost electricity.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission continues to develop a response to the complex phenomenon, noting January 1 that “the initial review of the data for the area in question has not identified any oil and gas wastewater disposal wells that are both high volume and in the state’s deepest formation, a combination that researchers have identified as being at the highest risk for inducing earthquakes.”

The announcement … Continue Reading

Canadian think tank’s research shows concerns about hydraulic fracturing as excessive

Canada’s Fraser Institute has published a Research Bulletin following a review of recent research into the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. In Managing the Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing: An Update, the argument is made that although there are indeed risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, they are for the most part readily manageable with available technologies and best practices.

The Fraser Institute reviewed the state of research around five areas of risk:

  • risks to surface and groundwater;
  • risks of well integrity and fracturing induced stress;
  • risks of water loss;
  • risks to air quality; and
  • risk of induced seismicity.

The Fraser Institute … Continue Reading

Alberta to consider water management pilot in the Duvernay

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is considering a pilot project in Alberta’s Duvernay shale basin in response to increased public concerns about cumulative effects, water conservation and groundwater protection associated with hydraulic fracturing. The Duvernay regulatory pilot project is expected to look at alternatives to fresh water sources of water, water transportation and storage, and waste water treatment and injection.

The Duvernay shale play in the Fox Creek area of northwestern Alberta is an oil and liquids-rich gas formation which has only recently experienced development. Significant future development is forecast for the play.

With respect to water use in the … Continue Reading

Canada water network identifies knowledge, gaps and opportunities for water and hydraulic fracturing

The Canadian Water Network (CWN) has released a paper on water and hydraulic fracturing that summarizes what is known about water and hydraulic fracturing in Canada, what is most needed to be known and what areas should be targeted for research. The CWN is a group of academics from major Canadian universities that connects water researchers and decision-makers engaged in water management issues.

In 2013, CWN established a national program of five projects with researchers from across Canada conducting reviews that considered the key questions related to hydraulic fracturing and water being asked by decision-makers. The projects assessed the most … Continue Reading

New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing seeks public input

In December 2014 the Government of New Brunswick placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. In March 2015 it created the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing to determine if five conditions could be met to lift the moratorium.

The moratorium will not be lifted unless there is:

  • a social license in place;
  • clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water, allowing the government to develop a country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
  • a plan in place that mitigates the impacts on public infrastructure and that addresses issues such as waste
Continue Reading

Canadian industry seeks comments on IRP 24: fracture stimulation industry recommended practice

Enform Canada has released for public comment a draft Industry Recommended Practice on Hydraulic Fracturing known as IRP 24: Fracture Stimulation. Enform Canada is a not-for-profit entity formed by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors and the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada to serve as a hub of safety training for the Canadian oil and gas industry. An IRP 24 Committee within Enform Canada is responsible for developing IRP 24.

IRP 24Continue Reading

Canadian First Nation wins fracking water license case

The Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) in northeastern British Columbia has won an important anti-fracking case before the B.C. Environmental Appeal Board against Nexen Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited

In B.C., all surface water is the property of the province and a license is required to divert over a certain volume.

In May 2012 Nexen was issued a Conditional Water License allowing it to divert water from North Tsea Lake to dugouts for use in hydraulic fracturing operations in the Horn River Basin. North Tsea Lake is a small, shallow lake, being about 32 acres in size and … Continue Reading

Alberta energy regulator restricts temporary diversion licenses due to drought

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has taken steps to restrict surface water withdrawals under previously-issued temporary diversion licenses (TDLs) due to hot, dry weather and low flow surface water conditions across Alberta. The restrictions are intended to protect aquatic ecosystems at risk due to drought.

TDLs are commonly used by oil and gas operators and their contractors as authority to source water for hydraulic fracturing and other oilfield operations. In Alberta, the province owns all of the water and a license from the AER is required by the oil and gas industry to divert and use the water.

The AER … Continue Reading

B.C. Court requires frac sand mine to undergo environmental assessment

The British Columbia Supreme Court has ordered the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to reconsider its previous decision to not require an environmental assessment of the proposed Komie North frac sand mine near Fort Nelson, B.C.

In this case, Canadian Silica Industries (CSI) wanted to develop the Komie North Mine and potentially five other mines for the extraction of frac sand. The deposits are particularly valuable given the extensive oil and gas activities in the area. However, the mine site lays within the historical territory of the Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) who were concerned about the mine’s potential environmental … Continue Reading

Ernst & Young assesses British Columbia’s regulatory framework for hydraulic fracturing

The British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) hired Ernst & Young (E&Y) to assess B.C.’s regulatory framework governing hydraulic fracturing. The OGC asked E&Y to:

  • assess the OGC’s current framework, including legislation, regulation, guidance, leading practices, policies, permit conditions and industry standards;
  • develop a detailed map of the relationship between existing regulatory instruments and the key issues presented by hydraulic fracturing;
  • conduct a high-level scan of six selected jurisdictions with an industry and geology similar to B.C.;
  • identify opportunities to improve BC’s regulatory framework; and
  • based on a set of co-developed guiding principles, develop leading-practice recommendations.

E&Y concluded that … Continue Reading

Canada’s Northwest territories propose new hydraulic fracturing filing regulations for on shore wells

The Northwest Territories (NWT) in Canada’s north have released for public comment proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Filing Regulations under the NWT’s Oil and Gas Operations Act. If brought into force, the proposed Regulations will require an operator who wants to hydraulically fracture a well to submit to the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Investment, among other things:

  • a Risk Assessment which identifies the threats and hazards from the proposed hydraulic fracturing operation to safety and the environment and the mitigative measures to manage those threats and hazards;
  • an Environmental Protection Plan prepared in accordance with the Environmental Protection Plan Guidelines
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Canada’s Yukon government paves the way for hydraulic fracturing

The Yukon government has accepted all 21 recommendations made by a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly Regarding the Rights and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing. The Select Committee held public hearings and accepted submissions to help the Yukon Government develop a policy approach to hydraulic fracturing in the Yukon.

The Select Committee’s recommendations largely addressed the need to gather more information about fracking and its impact in the Yukon. For instance, it recommended that research be conducted regarding fluid and gas leakage from hydraulic fracturing operations specific to the unique permafrost conditions in the Yukon. It also recommended more baseline … Continue Reading

New Brunswick announces commission to study hydraulic fracturing

The Canadian province of New Brunswick has appointed a three person Commission to study if the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing should be lifted. In December 2014 the provincial government introduced amendments to the Oil and Gas Act that placed a moratorium on all types of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick following wide-spread public protests. The moratorium will not be lifted unless:

  • a social license is in place;
  • there is clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water, allowing the government to develop a country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
  • a
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Alberta Energy Regulator responds to earthquakes possibly linked to fracking

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has issued new rules which create a “traffic light” process in response to earthquakes believed to have been caused by hydraulic fracturing. Subsurface Order No. 2 comes after several seismic events that may be related to hydraulic fracturing were recorded in the Duvernay play near Fox Creek in northwestern Alberta. A 3.8 magnitude earthquake measured on the Richter scale happened on January 214, 2015 and a 4.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded on January 22, 2014. Both were felt by residents of Fox Creek but there were no injuries or damage.

Some researchers believe … Continue Reading

Alberta taking steps to protect groundwater from hydraulic fracturing operations

The Government of Alberta has released a Water Conservation Action Plan which includes short and long-term strategic actions to protect groundwater from the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing operations.

The Plan outlines 20 short-term and five long-term actions that are intended to help protect Alberta’s groundwater during oil and gas development. With respect to hydraulic fracturing, Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) in collaboration with Alberta Energy and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will:

  • expand the water conservation and allocation policy presently in place for oilfield injection to include water conservation measures for hydraulic fracturing, with
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Alberta extends with “play-based” regulation experiment

The Alberta Energy Regulator (“AER”) has extended its pilot project for a “play-based” regulatory framework for unconventional oil and gas development in part of the Duvernay shale play in west-central Alberta.
The Duvernay shale play is a large, developing shale play covering much of western and northern Alberta and eastern British Columbia.  It is particularly rich in light oil and petroleum liquids such as propane and butane.  Hydraulic fracturing has been key in developing the vast underground rock formation that covers an area the size of South Korea.

The Duvernay play is still in its early stages with only about … Continue Reading