Letters: Oil and Gas Commission working to ensure dam safety

Re: 'Fracking poses risk to Peace River dams: CCPA', Alaska Highway News, Jan. 9, 2020

The BC Oil and Gas Commission has been working closely with BC Hydro since 2009 when the Commission undertook a study into any possible interactions between oil and gas development and the Peace Canyon Dam. Since then, the Commission has taken a leading role in the management and mitigation of induced seismicity since first identifying it in 2012.

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The report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published Jan. 9, 2020 includes references to some of the work we have done in identifying and managing this issue, but only selectively. The following is intended to provide more context around the material presented and how it fits in with the actions undertaken by the Commission’s experts:

  • There is no record of any completion (hydraulic fracturing) activity near Peace Canyon Dam in summer 2007.

  • The Commission has been working closely with BC Hydro since 2009 regarding dam safety and stability and any potential impacts of oil and gas development.

  • The development in proximity to the Peace Canyon Dam at that time, was shallow coal bed methane (CBM). There is currently no coal bed methane development happening in B.C. This type of development (shallow vertical wells) is entirely different from unconventional development we see in the Montney today (and there are no records of any induced seismic events in this area).

  • The disposal well referenced for Canada Energy Partners (CEP) was initially developed for the CBM play (which is not happening in British Columbia) and has never experienced any recorded induced seismicity.

  • The Commission first identified a cluster of induced events working with NRCAN in 2011 leading to the 2012 Horn River Basin Report and was the start of the Commission’s leading research into induced seismicity.

  • That led to expansion of the detection grid across northeast B.C. and the Commission’s first permit conditions for induced seismic monitoring and mitigation (including shut down procedures).

  • The Commission published a subsequent 2014 Montney Report.

  • The Commission worked with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources as it established a five km buffer zone to prohibit future tenure sales and developed restrictions on fracturing/disposal activities on existing tenure within that area.

  • When notified of possible stability concerns around the Peace Canyon Dam, the Commission immediately ordered CEP to suspend all disposal activities.

  • Only after lengthy detailed review was CEP allowed to return to operations subject to numerous conditions (available on our website) which would ensure safety and integrity of the dam (CEP has not taken any further steps to meet the new conditions and therefore, the disposal well remains suspended).

  • The Commission established the Kiskatinaw Seismic Monitoring and Mitigation Area (KSMMA) in 2018 when it became evident that induced events could occur during fracturing in that specific area.

  • The protocols reduced the shut down magnitude and enhanced monitoring and mitigation requirements. It also required operators to inform residents who may feel events of what causes them and what to do if they occurred.

  • The CNRL event in Nov. 2018 was within the KSMMA – protocols worked and no damage occurred.

  • CNRL was allowed to resume operations only after the fault and trigger mechanisms were identified and a development plan and controls were established to mitigate any additional events – and it should be noted, resumption of activities is only for one well, not the one that caused the earlier seismic event.

  • The Commission continues to work with NRCAN, Geoscience BC and others in improving prediction and mitigation of events, and remains in constant contact with BC Hydro to ensure the safety of all operations

— BC Oil and Gas Commission

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