Fracking ban definition of ‘high-volume’ practice unclear | The Chronicle Herald

What is high-volume fracking?

Apparently, legislation is coming to ban it in Nova Scotia.

Three days after the Wheeler report recommended Nova Scotia prepare community approval mechanisms, more area-specific science and an extensive regulatory regime before allowing hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced he will bring in legislation to ban high-volume fracking.

The only reference Marco Navarro-Genie from the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies could find to such a practice in the report was with regard to the amount of wells drilled.

In Cape Breton University president David Wheeler’s report on the controversial method of pumping water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to open up oil- and gas-bearing shale deposits, high-volume hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia would be if over 20,000 wells were drilled.

After speaking to citizens in Pugwash on Friday about the importance of the province harvesting its natural resources, Navarro-Genie said the minister’s announcement will leave the door open to medium- and low-volume fracking — whatever they are.

“I expect this will come to light in the fullness of time when the legislation is debated in the house,” he said.

Asked whether he thought Younger had yet decided what high-volume fracking is, Navarro-Genie replied: “I have to assume when the minister speaks, he knows what he’s talking about.”

When contacted by The Chronicle Herald for an explanation, the Energy Department provided a written response stating “the practice we are banning uses high volumes of water with sand and chemicals to develop natural gas in tight shales. The detail on the legal definition of the practice will come this fall as part of the legislation/regulations.”

William Mundle, chief executive officer of mineral exploration company Logan Drilling Ltd., also wasn’t sure what the minister meant.

His company has done conventional oil and gas exploration in Nova Scotia and the Arctic but hasn’t done hydraulic fracturing.

Mundle said he found the Wheeler report to be a balanced document with good recommendations for the industry, and the province should have taken more time to consider it before announcing a ban.

“I think it would have been wiser to take more time to study the report more thoroughly and then report their decisions to the public in a way they can understand,” Mundle said Friday.

Asked if he thought companies would be interested in onshore gas exploration in Nova Scotia after the minister’s announcement, he said, “Not at this time.”

“Why would a company want to venture into Nova Scotia with the intent to develop shale gas when government has said, ‘We don’t want it at this time.’

“If I were an oil and gas company, I wouldn’t want to come to Nova Scotia.”

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