With recent events bringing attention to hydraulic fracturing, I think it is important for British Columbians to know the facts about natural gas operations in our province.
B.C. has been producing natural gas for more than 50 years. Hydraulic fracturing, the technology used to extract a large portion of our natural gas, has been occurring for decades. Our extensive experience has enabled us to put strict rules in place to govern how the industry conducts its business, ensuring it is rigorously monitored and as safe as possible.
We were the first province in Canada to make it mandatory for industry to disclose the fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process. The online registry – FracFocus.ca – provides information about our regulations and an account of each well drilled.
Our province’s geology provides us with natural advantages over other areas in North America with the hydraulic fracturing process occurring in B.C. kilometres away from the surface and below impermeable layers of rock and soil.
When wells are drilled, they are lined with cement to a depth of 600 metres to protect our soil and water. This provides even more protection for our drinking water. As well, water usage is carefully monitored and protected in British Columbia.
The net result of both our strong regulatory framework and our geology is that B.C.’s water supply is protected and safe. It has never been contaminated as a result of hydraulic fracturing.
To ensure industry adheres to our rules, we have a dedicated provincial regulator in place. The BC Oil and Gas Commission has expert geologists, hydrologists, and engineers to ensure natural gas work remains safe.
And while the experts do their job, we continue to do ours.
The provincial government has made sound policy decisions to support responsible natural gas development. World-leading regulations and best practices continue to guide how we operate.
Our government supports responsible growth and development because it makes long-term sense. We want industry to grow in an environmentally sensible manner so all British Columbians can benefit directly from natural gas production. We recognize safe exploration as an opportunity to support and grow our economy. Revenue generated enables us to better protect our environment and pay for important services such as health care, education, infrastructure development and more.
The reality is we must strike a realistic balance between the needs of our families and strong communities, and the need to be responsible stewards of our environment. We need to accomplish both to be successful in the long term.
And we are confident we are doing that on many fronts. For instance, to address growing demands from many industries, we are updating legislation with the proposed Water Sustainability Act. This act will ensure the best standards of environmental protection and appropriate oversight is in place for B.C.’s water resources now and in the future.
Our approach appears to be working.
To reiterate, there has never been an incident of contaminated water supply as a result of hydraulic fracturing in our province. The water used by industry is subject to strict rules. Before any approval can be provided, each permit must go through a rigorous review to eliminate harms and maintain existing water levels.
In addition to a vast supply of natural gas and leading standards for exploration, B.C offers industry with many other advantages necessary for large investment, and that is why we have this amazing opportunity to become a world leader in natural gas exports.
As the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas is in high demand around the globe, particularly where air quality is a major concern.
We see this as an opportunity to redefine our financial security and set a path forward to future prosperity for all British Columbians.
Our government supports natural gas development because it makes sense today and for generations to come. Natural gas is our best competitive advantage moving forward.
Minister of Natural Gas Development