Energy Science

Ongoing Research

A Baseline Assessment of Domestic Well Water Quality in Areas of Potential Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick: Final Report

The public response to recent exploration activities for natural gas in New Brunswick has highlighted the concern over possible impacts to groundwater from unconventional (shale) gas resource development. In 2014, the New Brunswick Energy Institute (NBEI) awarded a research grant to the University of New Brunswick (UNB) to undertake a 2-year regional baseline groundwater quality study in southeastern New Brunswick. The objective of this study was to collect and report on baseline well water quality data in areas that the petroleum industry had identified as potential targets for shale-gas exploration and development.

Baseline Water Quality Research on New Brunswick Streams

Announced August 14, 2014 and under the direction of the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI), this study will provide the groundwork for evaluating possible impacts of shale gas development on surface water by mapping the inflows of groundwater to adjacent streams and by characterizing current baseline water quality and aquatic species in areas of the province most likely to be of interest to shale gas developers.  The CRI research team will also develop and test methods to monitor potential contaminants from shale gas development, such as methane levels in streams, as they are critical for long term monitoring programs and for identifying impacts on surface waters should development proceed in the future.  All the findings will be made available to the public. The research will commence in September 2014, with most of the field study to be done in 2015 and results to be published in 2016.  The NBEI has awarded the CRI with $350,000 towards this study. 

Seismic Monitoring Network

The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) currently operates five temporary seismic monitoring stations in New Brunswick that have been strategically located to establish a background dataset for seismic activity in areas of potential increased hydraulic fracturing activity. In order to build on this baseline and to monitor seismic effects from potential future hydraulic fracturing, the Institute will be replacing current temporary seismic monitoring stations (five in all) with permanent monitoring stations as they are removed by the GSC over the next two years. The first two stations are scheduled to be replaced by the NBEI during summer 2014. The Institute will look to developing appropriate scientific research related to this seismic monitoring network in the future.

Environmental Flows - Canadian Rivers Institute

Announced April 1, 2014 and under the direction of Dr. David Armanini and Dr. Allen Curry with the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick, this project is intended to examine the environmental water flows required for New Brunswick streams and rivers. Part of a larger international study, the Institute’s funds will be used to assess state-of-the-art approaches as to how much water flow is needed in our streams and rivers to support fish and other aquatic life, and to provide advice on effective environmental flow guidelines for the Province of New Brunswick. The information gathered will have many uses, but will be particularly useful for natural resource development initiatives for which allocations of fresh water are made. This $24,000 project will commence in April 2014 and is expected to be completed by September 2014.

Groundwater Baseline Monitoring Study

Announced on March 17, 2014 and under the direction of Dr. Kerry MacQuarrie from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick, the Groundwater Baseline Monitoring Study will be the first large scale examination of natural methane gas occurrences in private water wells in the province. The objective of the project is to collect and report baseline domestic water quality data in selected regions of New Brunswick. The focus of the work is on groundwater quality parameters that are most relevant to the potential impact on shallow groundwater from unconventional shale gas production. This $531,800 two-year study will begin in April 2014 with a final technical report to be completed in April 2016.