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Yukon to spend $150K to study Liard Basin potential

The Yukon government is moving ahead with an economic assessment of shale gas development in the Liard Basin even though one analyst says it’s not likely to happen soon.

Development not likely to happen soon, says conservationist

The first detailed assessment of the Liard Basin, released Wednesday, found that Yukon holds four per cent of one of the world's largest shale gas reserves. (CBC)

The Yukon government is moving ahead with an economic assessment of shale gas development in the Liard Basin, even though one analyst says it's not likely to happen soon.

"In the short to medium term I don't think there is any business case for fracking the Yukon portion of the Liard Basin," says Sebastian Jones, an energy analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society.  
'There is no social licence for fracking in the Yukon,' says Sebastian Jones, 'there is huge opposition to fracking here.' (submitted by Sebastian Jones)

The first detailed assessment of the Liard Basin, released Wednesday, found that Yukon holds four per cent of one of the world's largest shale gas reserves.  

But Jones says it isn't the right time to move ahead with development.

"Gas companies that are already pumping gas that have already developed fields are losing money," he said. 

"Therefore there's no way that with the current low prices in gas that a new field like the Liard could be developed."

Even if the economy was more inviting, Jones points out there is little support for developing shale gas, which requires hydraulic fracturing to get to market.

"There is no social licence for fracking in the Yukon, there is huge opposition to fracking here," Jones said.

'Enormous' potential

Mike Johnson, a supply analyst with the National Energy Board, said the estimated 219 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is enough to meet Canada's natural gas needs at 2014 levels of consumption for nearly 70 years.

Most of it is located in British Columbia, with about 20 per cent in the N.W.T. But the Yukon government is enthusiastic.

"With a limited land base available for oil and gas development, this assessment demonstrates the enormous energy potential in southeast Yukon," said Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, in a news release.

The government is prepared to spend up to $150,000 to gauge the potential value.

"Our department has issued a request for proposals to conduct a study of those potential impacts in the Yukon's Liard Basin," said Shona Mostyn, manager of marketing and communications at the Yukon's Department of Economic Development.

Small portion assessed in Yukon

There could be even more shale gas in the Yukon part of the basin.

The Yukon Geological survey says only a portion of the Liard Basin was assessed.

"The northwestern part of our piece of the basin is quite deformed and once the rocks are fractured and deformed their character changes," says Carolyn Relf, the director of the Yukon Geological Survey.

"It's less appealing for development and also a little bit more difficult to evaluate."

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