Energy Science

New Brunswick Based Reports

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.
 

A Baseline Assessment of Domestic Well Water Quality in Potential Shale Gas Regions of New Brunswick: 2015 Interim Progress Report

The production of oil and natural gas is an activity that generates public and regulatory concerns
regarding fresh water resources. These issues are relevant to the protection of water supplies for domestic, municipal, and industrial uses, and to maintaining the ecological health of surface water systems such as rivers and lakes. The recent exploration activities for natural gas in New Brunswick (NB) have highlighted the keen interest and concern over potential impacts to groundwater that serves as the water supply for over 60% of the province’s population. In NB, groundwater that is used for human consumption is extracted from 55 municipal well fields and over 100,000 private wells (NBEIA, 2002). So-called unconventional shale gas production, which employs deep horizontal drilling of gas wells and high-pressure fracturing to enhance gas recovery, is of particular interest in NB.
 

Environmental Flows Guidelines for Resource Development in New Brunswick

It is generally acknowledged that maintaining a natural or near natural flow regime is a key aspect for the protection of healthy, flowing water ecosystems, especially for managed streams and rivers (e.g., Arthington et al., 2006). Flow acts as a master variable by exerting influences on the condition of most environmental characteristics in rivers and streams such as water quality, energy patterns, physical habitat and biotic interactions (e.g., Poff et al 1997). Understanding this concept and incorporating it into the regulatory framework has become a priority for monitoring and conservation programs worldwide, particularly in the context of resource development and land use change.

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New Brunswick Shale Gas Air Monitoring Study – Interim Report

In the fall of 2012, a Memorandum of Agreement for Services between Health Canada and the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government was established to conduct an air monitoring study around shale gas activities in the province of New Brunswick. This first interim report presents the monitoring activities conducted between October 2012 and April 2013 as part of the New Brunswick Shale Gas Air Monitoring Study.

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Rules for Industry

These rules have been released in order to support New Brunswick’s on-going management of oil and gas activities and to ensure that the Province continues to have the tools needed to guide oil and gas exploration and extraction in an environmentally responsible manner. They are based on recommendations contained in Responsible Environmental Management of Oil and Gas Activities in New Brunswick - Recommendations for Public Discussion which was released for public comment on May 17, 2012. The rules incorporate input received during the subsequent 4 month public review period.

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CMOH’s Recommendations

While large-scale development of a shale gas industry in New Brunswick may offer an economic growth opportunity for the province, it will be important to ensure that the overall health gains are greater than the losses. Economic status of individuals and communities can be an important determinant of their health, however there are many other factors resulting from industry development that can have strong negative impacts. Unless proper controls are put in place there is a risk of spoiling any benefits from economic gains through adverse health outcomes.

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Other Reports

Council of Canadian Academies Report

Shale gas is natural gas that is tightly locked within low permeability sedimentary rock. Recent technological advances are making shale gas reserves increasingly accessible and their recovery more economically feasible. This resource is already being exploited in British Columbia and Alberta, and substantial recoverable reserves may exist in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and elsewhere in Canada. Shale gas is being produced in large volumes in the

United States, and will likely be developed in coming years on every continent except Antarctica. Depending on factors such as future natural gas prices and government regulations, further development of Canadian shale gas resources could potentially span many decades and involve the drilling of tens of thousands of hydraulically fractured horizontal wells.

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