Earth­quakes bring halt to frack­ing in north­east B.C.

The Prince George Citizen - - Money - D an HEAL­ING

The BC Oil and Gas Com­mis­sion is shut­ting down oil­field frack­ing op­er­a­tions in a 72-square-kilo­me­tre area in the north­east part of the prov­ince for at least 30 days while it in­ves­ti­gates earth­quakes that oc­curred there on Nov. 29. The seis­mic events mea­sur­ing be­tween 3.4 and 4.5 mag­ni­tude took place near hy­draulic frac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions be­ing con­ducted about 20 kilo­me­tres south­east of Fort St. John by Cana­dian Nat­u­ral Re­sources Ltd.

The Cal­gary-based com­pany was the only oper­a­tor work­ing in the area at the time and it im­me­di­ately sus­pended op­er­a­tions, said com­mis­sion spokes­woman Lan­nea Parfitt, adding the com­pany has shut down its two wells there.

“We don’t want to spec­u­late as we are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate,” she said when asked what the com­mis­sion will do if frack­ing is found to have caused the earth­quakes.

Work won’t be al­lowed to re­sume with­out its writ­ten con­sent, the com­mis­sion said.

“It is too early to de­ter­mine whether the seis­mic ac­tiv­ity de­tected and felt in the re­gion was a nat­u­ral oc­cur­rence or re­lated to any of our ac­tiv­i­ties,” said Cana­dian Nat­u­ral spokes­woman Julie Woo in an email.

“Cana­dian Nat­u­ral is work­ing to­gether with the BC Oil and Gas Com­mis­sion to pro­vide all avail­able data and in­for­ma­tion for their as­sess­ment of the event.”

Ac­cord­ing to Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada, a 4.5 mag­ni­tude earth­quake on Nov. 29 was felt in Fort St. John, Taylor, Chetwynd and Daw­son Creek but did no dam­age. It was fol­lowed by two smaller af­ter­shocks.

Hy­draulic frac­tur­ing in­volves in­ject­ing large amounts of wa­ter, sand and chem­i­cals into a well to break up tight rock un­der­ground and al­low trapped oil and gas to flow.

The B.C. com­mis­sion has linked frack­ing and the oil­field prac­tice of in­ject­ing waste liq­uids into dis­posal wells to pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents of “in­duced seis­mic­ity,” al­though it notes on its web­site none of the events in B.C. have re­sulted in haz­ards to safety or the en­vi­ron­ment or prop­erty dam­age.

CP FILE PHOTO

A worker helps mon­i­tor wa­ter pump­ing pres­sure and tem­per­a­ture at a hy­draulic frac­tur­ing and ex­trac­tion site in west­ern Colorado in March 2013.

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