Drilling process concerns N.B. environmentalists
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is raising concerns over a new technique that will be used extract natural gas from shale deposits located near Elgin.
New Brunswick is one of the latest hot spots to search for unconventional natural gas reserves and will be using a technique called hydrofracking, where workers fracture rocks deep underground using high-pressure water to release the natural gas.
That technique has proved to be very controversial in New York and the Conservation Council is bringing in an environmental lawyer from the state to explain the concerns.
David Coon, the policy director for the Conservation Council, said the hydrofracking process raises environmental concerns.
"Based on what's happened already across the United States, in a number of states, there's contamination of well water, reduction in supply of water from water withdrawals, air quality problems," Coon said.
"When you start to get a lot of drilling activity, the industrialization of the local community where the drilling is intense."
New Brunswick is already producing natural gas from a conventional deposit near Sussex.
The new drilling involves horizontal wells that spread out over more than a kilometre.
Apache Corp., a Texas company, will begin drilling for natural gas and it's a ratcheting up of exploration following some promising finds last fall.
Corridor Resources announced in May that a formerly abandoned well could have more natural gas than is available in all of western Canada's proven reserves.
If sufficient gas is found Apache Corp. and Corridor Resources could team up on drilling as many as 480 new wells.
Drilling plans have to be cleared by the province's Department of Environment.
Mark Glynn, the manager of industrial processes with the environment department, said existing regulations cover the risks.
"The wells themselves are two kilometres or deeper. Material that remains down two kilometres below would certainly be separate from any drinking water aquifers. There wouldn't be an exposure pathway," Glynn said.
The Conservation Council is inviting people in the drilling area to attend public meetings in Penobsquis and Elgin to hear the concerns raised about hydrofracking in the United States.