Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia should frack for natural gas, consultant says

An energy consultant specializing in natural gas says Nova Scotians are being hypocritical when it comes to fracking the energy source.

Local ban on fracking means province pays through the nose for Alberta to do it, Todd MacDonald argues

Workers frack for natural gas in Alberta. Some of it might have wound up in Nova Scotia. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press)

An energy consultant specializing in natural gas says Nova Scotians are being hypocritical when it comes to fracking the energy source. 

Todd MacDonald represents large industrial users in Atlantic Canada. He helps them procure shale natural gas that's fracked elsewhere — like Alberta or the U.S.

"That's the real irony," he said. "Nobody wants to frack for gas and we don't want fracking, but then we're all okay using gas that was fracked in somebody else's backyard and paying three times what we would pay if we did it ourselves." 

MacDonald said Maritimers should realize their regional natural gas prices are the highest in all of North America.

"We pay, I would say on average, two to three times more than what the rest of the continent averages." 

The pricing nightmare, he said, can be blamed on the province's inaction to resource development. 

Other options, such as providing a competitor pipeline to the one that currently brings in gas to Nova Scotia, won't work, he says. Heavy regulations and building costs won't be worth the effort. 

Instead, MacDonald said the province must now choose to develop its own natural resources, and that means fracking

Sable Island running dry

He says his clients are buying up natural gas from other regions to ship back to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in anticipation of Sable Island's natural gas running dry some time in the next three years.

"In the summer we have a big problem. It's a lack of indigenous gas, a lack of gas that we produce ourselves. And as a result we have to go far away, places like Pennsylvania or believe it or not, even Alberta, and bring gas from those locations at a very expensive price."

MacDonald said Nova Scotia finds itself at the tail end of poor decisions and a lack of foresight. He says Nova Scotia doesn't have the gas in the ground to meet regional demands in the summer time.

Before the Sable Island offshore project began, MacDonald said production in Atlantic Canada was in a good place. 

"We had enough gas to meet our own needs and then export the rest, which was fantastic because you took what you needed and you still got revenue for the stuff you sold into the States," he said.

But, as governments came and went, things changed. 

"Over time, the amount of supply that we have has declined and the number of people using that gas has increased." 

While the introduction of natural gas meant people got away from dirty fuels like oil and coal, the perfect storm intensifies now that Sable is running out and Deep Panuke fell short of expectations. 

He said the result is companies like Enbridge and Heritage Gas are now buying fracked natural gas from away. 

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