Canada’s Atlantic province of Nova Scotia is moving ahead with legislation that would indefinitely ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore oil and gas, but the proposed law would allow fracking for testing and research purposes.
Energy Minister Andrew Younger says the amendments to the Petroleum Resources Act will not provide a loophole for the shale gas industry.
Younger, who first announced the government’s plans to implement a fracking moratorium early this month, said in a statement the legislation makes it clear that commercial fracking will not be allowed without a public and transparent debate in the legislature.
Canada’s federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver has warned the province of Nova Scotia that the decision may thwart a key economic opportunity for the province’s stalled economy.
A two-year moratorium on fracking was put in place by the previous NDP government in 2012 as public protests grew in Nova Scotia and in neighbouring New Brunswick.
Andrew Younger noted the government plans to draft regulations to define what high-volume fracking is and describe the process it will follow before reconsidering the moratorium..
The process of unlocking natural gas deposits by pumping a combination of water, sand and chemicals into shale rock formations has been around for five decades. But the recent and sharp increase in high-volume fracking has triggered concerns about groundwater contamination, climate-warming methane gas leaks, even earthquakes.
Experts and authorities agree those are, by all accounts, manageable risks.
“Before permitting this technique, [we] will need to be confident that it can be done safely and ensure there are stringent rules and regulations in place,” Younger added.
Only three test wells have been hydraulically fracked in Nova Scotia since 2007, all of them in the Kennetcook area, where Denver-based Triangle Petroleum (NYSEMKT:TPLM) failed to make the natural gas there flow.