Atlantica Centre For Energy

New Brunswick Based Reports

Research to Understand Surface Water Conditions in Areas Overlying Shale Gas Resources in Southwest New Brunswick

The New Brunswick Energy Institute (NBEI) sought research to support a better understanding of the surface water monitoring relevant to shale gas development in New Brunswick and asked for an evaluation of appropriate methods to assess environmental conditions of streams and for establishing baseline conditions in targeted extraction regions. The Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), in partnership with the Université de Moncton (UdeM), designed and conducted a two-year research program that focused on the baseline characterization of the chemical, physical, and biological conditions in surface waters pre-development and that supports the ability of provincial and federal regulators to assess and detect changes of concern during or post-development.

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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.

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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.

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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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