Liberal fracking moratorium pledge may contain loophole

30 10 2014

[Editor’s Note: Pumping liquid propane into our groundwater is ok so long as you don’t add water?]

Premier Brian Gallant’s latest comments focus only on hydraulic fracturing, not other types

By Robert Jones, CBC News Posted: Oct 29, 2014 7:07 PM AT Last Updated: Oct 29, 2014 10:08 PM AT

There’s confusion about how a promised Liberal moratorium on fracking will apply to existing shale gas sites in New Brunswick, with hints from Premier Brian Gallant that non-hydraulic fracturing might not be as objectionable to his government as fracking that relies on water.

Premier-designate Brian Gallant

Premier Brian Gallant says there should be a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, but his position on Corridor Resources’ practice of using liquid petroleum or propane to frack is less clear. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

​”We believe there should be a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing due to the lack of information concerning the risks to our environment, our health, and our water,” he said in Saint John on Wednesday — one of six specific references he made to “hydraulic fracturing” in a brief exchange with reporters

Corridor Resources, a Nova Scotia-based natural gas company that operates several wells in the Sussex area, largely fracks using liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or propane — a method the natural gas industry often promotes as an alternative to hydraulic fracturing.

In a news release on Tuesday, the company said it restimulated, or fracked, five of its New Brunswick wells this summer — four using propane, not water.

In 2011, an article posted by the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK talked about fracking with propane as “an alternative approach to hydraulic fracturing,” a distinction that Liberals may or may not also be making in New Brunswick.

On Wednesday, Gallant seemed to suggest he was only concerned about fracking that involved the use of water.

‘I think it’s important for people to know what we’re concerned about — it’s the process of extraction that’s called hydraulic fracturing.’– Premier Brian Gallant

Corridor “may not have to hydraulically frack, and I can’t speak to that, I really am not aware, not privy to what their operations were entailing, but I think it’s important for people to know what we’re concerned about — it’s the process of extraction that’s called hydraulic fracturing,” Gallant said.

It wasn’t clear if Gallant meant that Corridor might find another way to get the gas, or whether he believes Corridor has already fracked enough to supply gas to the mine for an extended time.

During the election campaign, then-Corridor CEO Philip Knoll wrote a three-page letter to all political party leaders so they could take part in the shale gas debate “in an informed manner.”

In the letter, Knoll wrote that Corridor — which has been fracking in the province for a decade using mostly propane — could only extract gas through the fracturing process.

“There is no other method to release the natural gas from tight sandstone or shale other than through fracturing the rock,” he said. “That is the reality.”

Fracking was also needed during exploration, to establish how much gas was available. “There is no other way,” he said.

The Tories used the Corridor site and the supply of gas it provides to the mine as a symbol of their pro-shale campaign.

Then-PC leader David Alward launched his campaign at the site, saying Gallant “literally wants to shut down the pump here and the affordable gas that makes the potash mine just over there run.”

The interim PC leader, Bruce Fitch, says the Liberals should have been aware that their moratorium promise would endanger existing operations.

“This is not new information to them, that potash mines are in Sussex, that shale gas is in Sussex,” Fitch said. “This is them saying, `We ran on a moratorium, we got elected, we can’t implement it so we’re going to make it up as we go along.'”

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