Concerns about hydraulic fracturing were the focus of presentations and discussions at an information session and barbecue held at Rimbey Community Centre last Thursday.
The evening, sponsored by the Rimbey and Area Multi- Stakeholder Group, was well represented by oil companies, landowners and government.
Carrie Sancartier, spokesperson for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development said hydraulic fracturing is in its infancy in Alberta, but it is becoming more common.
“The province is well positioned to address the current early stages of development based on a solid regulatory framework that has been built over the past 60 years of energy development,” she said.
In her presentation, hydraulic fracturing 101 Christine Beermann, Field Regulatory Coordinator for the Red Deer District from PennWest Exploration noted misinformation is out there about fracking and it often stems from lack of education and sensationalized stories.
“Information and pictures used out of context are misleading,” she said.
Sancartier said Albertans are asking for easy access to credible information about fracking.
“They also want to know that we are developing our resources responsibly while effectively protecting the environment,” she said.
She noted some information is currently easily accessible, citing the Oil Sands information Portal), an online resource with an interactive map display and a data library as an example.
Other projects in place to keep Albertans abreast of hydraulic fracturing include a review of the procedure with the Energy Resources Conservation Board regarding regulations, new technology and water use.
Information about hydraulic fracturing fluids is expected to be publicly available by the end of the year, she said.
Sancartier said rules are in place to ensure fracking is a safe procedure.
A review of groundwater regulations which regulate the use of fresh water for fracking is ongoing, groundwater level fluctuations due to fracking are monitored as is the water quality in about 250 observation wells in the province, she said.
The drilling and completion of wells, storage and handling of fluids, flaring and venting and noise control are also stringently regulated, she said.
“Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development regulates the allocation of water and issues authorizations for the use of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing operations,” she added.
Farmers and landowners who have concerns should contact the Office of the Farmers’ Advocate that provides consumer protection, rural opportunities and fair process for rural Albertans, she said.
For more information visit: http://www!.agric.gov.ab.ca/?department/deptdocs.nsf/all/ofa2621
Sancartier said Albertans are also encouraged to call the 24-hour ESRD Environmental Hotline at 1-800-222-6514 if they have environmental concerns or see any kind of environmental emergency.
Landowner Frank Kurta, a member of the Rimbey and area Multi-Stakeholder Group, said he was pleased with the presentations and interaction between community members, industry and government at the meeting.
“I thought we had good representation from both sides.”
The next meeting is planned to be held in the fall, he said.
The Rimbey and Area Multi-Stakeholder Group, comprised of community members, industry and government, work collaboratively to address community concerns related to the development of oil and gas resources in the area.
The group welcomes the participation of all oil and gas companies, landowners and community groups in the area.
Oil companies presently participating in RMSG are ConocoPhillips, PennWest, Suncor, TAQA, Encana and Bonavista.