Natural gas drilling in Quebec

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Natural gas drilling in Quebec

I'm sure you guys have heard of the debate of natural gas drilling in Quebec. I at first wondered if this was the same stuff you needed to use hydraulic fracturing and apparently it is. I'm familiar with this process and what it's done to the water reserves of towns surrounding it; people having explosive chemicals in their water. At the same time Quebec's economy is beginning to suffer and in the next decade we'll really be able to see the effect of this, unless of course the other provinces want to continue supporting Quebec. I don't know what to think here but it seems it's one of those damned if you do damned if you don't situations.

Issues Pages: 

Since when does public disapproval mean anything? (By the way I had to scour the news for your firecracker reference I had no idea what you were talking about.) The likely hood of it passing is high as is the likely hood of environmental contamination. Apparently the review doesn't end until February and business's are doing some preliminary drilling now to assess what's there. But from what I've noticed is that this is bound to end badly. Is there not another way of getting to the gas?


Both in Pennsylvania and New York has water contamination been noted. That would be awful to see happen here in Quebec. (Hopefully our government could regulate possibly environmentally damaging processes better than the Americans can.) I always thought that we should be working towards greener energy and Quebec as a province lacking in industry could provide a fertile ground for green innovation. Unfortunately the media has covered it very little which won't help opposition to the project, this issue could use a little bit of sensationalism. Perhaps CBC should air this documentary or something: (most epic trailer for a doc ever.)


For what its worth- no, there isnt another way of getting at the shale gas.

We have a fair bit of it here in Nova Scotia. Not as extensive, but I gathered the drilling going on under me was further along than the Quebec exploration.

The project around me died when it came to the production stage. And it does not have a chance of coming back until prices are a LOT higher, and staying that way. Thats not what you will hear from the company, or even in the more realistic assessments in the newspaper. So you can hope that a similar dynamic in Quebec buys some time.

There is a new drilling program 60 km from here that is proceeding because it has some oil as well as gas.

Unfortunately, the production in the US [but more Texas than Pennsylvania and New York] proves that shale gas can pay even in the current market. And shale gas is the hot action. So the fact you have much bigger reserves of it in Quebec may mean projects are more liklely to go ahead there even if the near term economics are no better than in Nova Scotia.

You'd have to do some digging to find that out, and I think its likely you'd never get to the bottom of it googling around on the net. The industry is built on boosterist BS in search of investment.


Is this the same process that's creating all kinds of sinkholes?


I doubt it.

At least, its not the most likely of risks that go with hydraulic fracturing. Where have these sinkholes been happening?


I heard of several in Pennsylvania and at least one in New York State, i think. Can't cite the source, unfortunately, since it was some months ago that i read about this. The connection with natural gas was not explicit; i just wondered.


This is a risky precedure, but in the words of the CEO I know, this shale gas operation would be "the biggest play going in the oil and gas sector". There is more natural gas in those formations than anywhere in North America.

New York, at one time, refused to let the gas play go ahead because it would contaminate their drinking water which comes in a huge pipeline from somewhere upstate and into Canada from the same formations, perhaps a less deep underground than the gas is.



And it did... New Yorks drinking water was contaminated. They shouldn't have given it the thumbs up. I find it difficult to entirely blame the extraction process, it seems that a lot of these problems are seem to arise with the negligence of the energy companies. And it seems that no matter what your business; rig drilling, tar sands, natural gas fraccing, things go wrong and these companies were well aware of the risks and were generally apathetic in addressing them until after the fact. How can we really trust these people anymore?

I will end with a related question: Anyone know which companies are bidding for rights to extraction?


Ironically, a Canadian company Encana- who are not just a Canadian company has some of the wells in Penn or NY where the contamination has gone as far as civil suits I beleive.

You probabably wont be able to tell anything by who eventually gets the leases in Quebec, let alone who bids on them. Chance are it is some junior company from Calgary, and as with all explorarion ownership shares and outright whole ownership will change along the way. If the leases do go all the way to commercial production they will have at least a large ownership chunk by the big players like Encana or Shell, who may or may not be the operator at that point.

But I would think that in Quebec most if not all of the leases have been sold. At that stage you are still a long way from drilling, and on most leases in the ened their wont be any serious activity at all.

All the companies will tell you how careful they are, how many procedures they have, some of them redundant even [as in commercial aircraft safety requirements]. And they are being truthful.

The problem is that with all, shit happens. You are blasting fissures into rock, a lot of which is in the water table, and you are pumping in vast quantities of solvents. Not to mention the huge amount of water required, that has to be cleaned before being discharged to waterways.

Where they are manipulating the truth systematically is around the probabilities of this stuff happening.

In the public persentations they just talk about all the safeguards. Unfortunately, thats enough for too many people who live over this. But for those who do push the PR people harder, they have all the answers that make it seem as unlikely as a nuclear reactor meltdown.

I goy $5,000 out of the company drilling here for our school library. Its funny, because I knew that be happy for what they would assume would be good PR. Cheap even. But this is an area where everything is known about everybody, so the fact I got the money was seen as locals fleece the guys from Calgary.

But this is a pretty hungry place, and even without illusions about how many jobs would go to locals, I doubt there would have been much opposition had the project gone forward.

Quebec might be different. The local group where there is shale gas exploration in New Brunswick brought someone in, who I beleive was from Pennsylvania or New York. I can find out about that if anyone wants to PM me.


You have to keep in mind that the scale of even worst case effects is nothing remotely like with the tar sands. So it doesnt force its way onto people.  And unless something goes wrong, the whole thing is benign and out of sight. Plus its kind of fascinating to most people, and rightfully so.

George Victor

Quote: "Quebec might be different. The local group where there is shale gas exploration in New Brunswick brought someone in, who I beleive was from Pennsylvania or New York. I can find out about that if anyone wants to PM me."


Just caught the tail end of a CBC Radio report this a.m....A meeting of Quebec farm people told the gas industry and politicos last night that they could frack off. NG industry people warn that exploration capital should not be scared off. Gov't says the processes happen far below the level that would effect surface water. The same old completely un-convincing assurances...given what is being reported from Idaho to NY state.


I heard about the hearing on the radio this morning. I agree with George Victor that it sounded like the usual assurances that the inevitable contamination will not occur.


Its always the same. and its unfortunately effective.

Unless you can force in the simple point that given the amount of fracing done, and the chemicals, shit WILL eventually happen. And point to the track record in the US- big Canadian energy companies included.


There is no such thing as clean fracturing of natural gas. Haliburton has been raping the shale geology in over 24 states with exemptions from every form of environmental safeguards. Each well is dug, 5000 to 8000 feet and blasted with 1 to 7 million gallons of water with over *598 chemicals, many of them (at least 36) that are extremely toxic to humans and animals. Where ever this procedure is done, the water and air is contaminated and the people nearby see the effects immediately. The rest of us get the long term effects like asthma, cancer, etc. We either stop this or breath the toxic air and poisoned water with a smile.

Now let's sing " As soon as your born, they let you feel small. By giving you no time instead of it all ". (Working Class Hero by John Lennon)

* Each well uses 400 trucks of water, 200 trucks of chemicals and equipment, roads built, acres torn up, at least half of toxic water left behind.

Watch the documentary - "GASLAND" by Josh Fox

Buddy Kat

absentia wrote:

Is this the same process that's creating all kinds of sinkholes?

Worse than sinkholes...earthquakes! "Many residents associated the shaking with the recent boom in natural-gas production in the area. The Barnett Shale, a rock deposit in north central Texas, is home to drilling using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which cracks rocks deep underground to release gas."


[url= solidaire will table a bill tomorrow for a moratorium on shale gas exploration and exploitation[/url]



Excellent development - Scott Mackay, PQ mines critic, also put forward a private members' bill today calling for a moratorium! QS had called for unity, and it looks as if once again their lone MNA has triggered a response:

[url= gas: the Opposition demands a moratorium[/url]


George Victor

You will perhaps have noticed the reaction of the Quebec populace, not people to let  sleeping members lie.   No doubt the exploding package was just a firecracker, meant to show approval of the project.  (minor edit.)



Québec solidaire continues to be the most active on this front among the political parties, and public opinion is shifting dramatically:

[url= opposition growing: poll[/url]


The survey, done for Le Devoir newspaper, found that 55 per cent of Quebecers are against shale-gas drilling, up from 37 per cent in a similar survey done in September. Opposition was even higher -- 75 per cent -- among people who said they were aware of the issue.

Three-quarters of respondents said they wanted a moratorium on shale gas drilling. But about half of the people opposed to shale gas drilling said they would be open to it if a moratorium was put in place and independent studies found that it could be drilled safely and with minimal environmental impacts.


Moving to the Quebec forum



[url= Securities (Calgary) accuses Québec of being a "rogue state"[/url]


The commercial bank Dundee considers that Québec is behaving like a "rogue state" on the shale gas issue. Among other recriminations, the firm's analysts bemoan the fact that the BAPE report was published in French only. [...]

Dundee predicts that the industry's key players will be reluctant to invest significant sums for the duration of the two-year strategic environmental study announced by the Québec government, and that "persistant uncertainties" will remain as to what kind of work the industry can conduct in the interim. [...]

"You can call us naive - us Albertans whose existence depends on the energy industry and the major wealth which it produces - but we had hoped that a more promising future would come into being in Québec", said Messrs. Grant Daunheimer and Aaron Swanson.

[My translation - the original is in French only, gentlemen.]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Ha - that's priceless, U. Laughing


They will be getting a call from Lucien Bouchard that they are diverging from and mucking up the new message.

"Didnt you read the memo?" [ya fucking idiots]

"We are being/acting humble before the people of Quebec now. We just weren't giving them time to get used to us and see how enlightenened we are." [just wait the fucking 30 months ya idiots]


Just a note that our group in Nova Scotia has decided to pursue a moratorium with a Strategic Environmental Assessment of shale gas fracking.

A moratorium is a necessary step back and look condition for any process. But the process is much more important than the moratorium itself.

A Strategic Environmental Assessment takes a bigger picture look than is characteristic of the project focused environmental impact assessment we are familiar with. We only have one or two precedents for this in Nova Scotia; but it is well established as a framework, and for all I know Quebec may have more precedents.... whatever label it travels under.

Enivironmental impact assessments for the mega-projects of Hydro Quebec would have a similar broader scope of inquiry. But not the conventional environmental impact assesments for a proposed mine, or expansion of gas drilling. Not to mention that in Nova Scotia an EIA is not required no matter how many wells you are going to drill, or how different their practices are than the conventional drilling that the regulatory framework was designed to address.

And that wont be different in Quebec. It is the same everywhere in North America. For the regulatory framework we have, drilling is drilling. And as you see in the discussion in the general thread on fracking, the industry and its proponents claims that all drilling really is the same, and no new regulatory frameworks are required. So far, every one of the state and provincial regulators also takes that as their operative assumption. "A little tweaking is required here and there, but no thoroughgoing reviews."

Anyway, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition will soon have a blog and website up. Very steep learning curve on this. I'll start a thread when we have something that can be linked to. .

Buddy Kat

That didn't take long for the oil elite to start screaming rouge state....I figure with the perimeter agreement resulting in the US protecting it's oil iintrests here in Canada instead of the middle east, it would just be a matter of time before the pressure started.


Mass demonstration Saturday by dozens of groups, including QS, trade unions, community groups, environmental groups - calling for total moratorium on shale gas exploration:

[url= against shale gas: Québec solidaire demands a new energy model[/url]

[url= gas: another demo Saturday in Montréal[/url]


The bank can whinne all the time,they whinne about every little thing. But we are not force to listen to them.

Look what happen the usa.

Because of that they become a country in regression. Because they listten to much to the bank.

So to Dundee bank : put a sock in it!


Well, this was yesterday's great news:

[url= gas not worth the risk, Quebec environmental agency says[/url]

And then today:

[url= Premier Philippe Couillard says no to shale gas[/url]

Our voice has been heard (for now)!!


[url=]Coui... rules out fracking[/url]


Premier Philippe Couillard closed the door on shale gas development in Quebec after an environmental review said its risks outweighed the economic benefits.

“I don’t think there is a big interest in developing this resource on the economic or financial levels. Anyway, the social acceptability isn’t there,” he said in an exclusive interview with Radio-Canada on Tuesday.

“If there’s no segment of the population that approves of the practice then I don’t see the interest in developing it.”

Couillard stopped short of calling for an extended ban on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which involves blasting a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals into the ground at very high pressure to break up rock formations and extract natural gas or oil.

We'll watch to see what that means. But the movement has undoubtedly scored a big victory here over the oil barons and their lackey spokesperson, Lucien Bouchard (if he's still employed by them... gotta check that out).



This seems to follow the pattern of Nova Scotia, probably New Brunswick soon, and now Quebec. And the 'details' are a little more sobering then it all sounds at first.

Its like they chuck out shale gas fracking, throw it under the bus, and work to maintain other forms of 'unconventional' that also require fracking as the front end of extraction ['traditional' fracking was at the end of a life of a reservoir, to eke more out]. The other forms of unconventional do not use as much of the water / chemical cocktails, and the pressures are not as high as with shale extraction.

For starters here are a couple articles:

'Tight Gas', 'Tight Sands' and 'Fracking Light'

I am interviewed in this, explaining "Tight Sands," one of the other forms of unconventional. And raising awareness that our Review might be setting the stage for "tight sands" is cool, and so is coal bed methane.

We did not get that coming out of the Review. Instead we are getting it by stealth from the government.

Another article, later, when the government announced Nova Scotia’s ban on fracking: We’ve come a long way. Not there yet.

So there was lots of fanfare and emphasis on the ban. Even in that euphoria, you see me pointing out in the article how everything but shale gas is left open or even encouraged. For which there is zero notice by the media, or really by anyone except activists.

The government has been playing more of a stealth game since. But stealth did not work for the NDP government. Stuff has to come out in the open eventually, and when it does, people dont like it.

Anyway, this is what Couillard says first... and it looks familiar.

All that said- so far as I know shale gas and shale oil prospects are all the action in Quebec. They were the biggest prospects in NS too, but not as big a deal as the Utica Shale in Quebec. Its a big sacrifice being pushed on the industry. Poor dears.

But all of these governments look optimistically at he prospects of bringing it all back in a few years, or several years. It's a time out. And even BAPE says as much.

One very big exception that the PQ already made was that shale oil is cool. Because there is more money in it, and the only identified resource is out on Anticosti... buy off the few locals. And there may be more shale oil than that.

Anywhere else but Quebec you could count on a project like Anticosti being shelved at least for a few years because of the oil prices. When the industry is stepping back, they focus their investments on proven very productive shale oil [Texas and North Dakota]. The Anticostis get dropped or shelved.

But the main deep pockets behind Anticosti are the Quebec taxpayers, and it would not surprise me if the government sticks to the development plan. If so they'll rationalize it with "by the time we get this puppy in production [few to several years] oil price will be recovered. True enough, but most in the industry would look at this as "we were going to take our chances with $100million [or whatever it is]. There was always a risk that what we get wont be worth developing... which is OK, thats the oil business. But now, even if the production is good enough to proceed, prices by then only MIGHT be high enough to reach breakeven on production. ??? "



Interesting that the industry seems to take it philosophically- emphasizing that they have not been permanently shut out.

They have been really hysterical in Nova Scotia. For almost exact same situation. Full on sledghammer all the time is pretty much how CAPP operates everywhere. Maybe in Quebec, the industry is smart enough to keep them out of it.