Shale gas: According to The Financial Post it’s Uncle Sam’s saviour. And what about Quebec?


An article published by The Financial Post on January 13th 2011 outlines the remarkable benefits the United States could gain through an increase of that country’s production of shale gas:

  • reduced dependency on foreign gas imports
  • deficit reduction
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Christopher Swann, journalist for the Reuters news agency and author of this article published by The Financial Post states that shale gas is a veritable lifesaver and lists the advantages the country of Uncle Sam could gain from increased local production and use of the resource. He compares reserves in the U.S. to Iran’s oil potential. Swann asks why the United States shouldn’t profit from the wealth it’s literally sitting on:

“America’s natural gas bonanza is too good an opportunity to miss. The new Congress needs to embrace the bounty beneath its feet.”

We’re reminded of the situation here in Quebec, a province that also possesses huge shale gas potential. The local development of this resource would bring the same kind of irrefutable benefits to both the United States and Quebec. Consult the Advantages for Quebec section of our website to learn more.

Christopher  Swann is an economic columnist specialising in the energy sector. He has worked for The Financial Times and Bloomberg.

We invite you to consult Christopher Swann’s full article on The Financial Post website.

You can read other articles by the same author below:

N. America’s gas drilling frenzy won’t end in 2011

U.S. Nuclear hopes choked by low emission costs

Information on reports on minor natural gas emanations


Media reports have recently commented on some minor natural gas emanations that have been observed during regulatory inspections.  We wish to confirm that wells are regularly monitored by the companies that operate them, as well as by government regulators.  QOGA members always test the equipment they install in these wells, in particular the casing that protects the water table.

In natural gas development, there is a limited potential for gas or liquid to flow up to the surface of a well. This is known in the industry as surface casing vent flows (SCVF) and gas migration (GM). The primary concern with these types of gas flows is safety.  In this regard, it is important to be aware that at no time was there any danger to the public or workers as a result of these flows.

Identifying and managing SCVF and GM flows is a well-established and regulated practice in the industry.  Wellheads are equipped with a surface casing vent which allows natural gas to be released safely to the atmosphere and monitored by the operator.  Surface casing vent flows are tested prior to the initial completion of the well and routinely throughout the life of the well. If a SCVF is identified, it is reported to the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune and further investigation is conducted.  Flows are categorized and appropriate corrective actions are determined in consultation with the regulator and in accordance with standard industry practices.  In most cases, the risk is so low that only monitoring is required, immediate repair is not necessary and corrective action is deferred until well abandonment.  This is consistent with all gas producing jurisdictions in North America.

It is important to recognize, that the presence of natural gas at surface is not necessarily an indication of SCVF or Gas Migration.  In Quebec and in other jurisdictions, it is not unusual for natural gas to be naturally present in shallow soils and aquifers. Natural gas is often found in water wells, independent of oil and gas activities.  In some cases, this gas can flow to surface using the well as a pathway.

Protecting the population, workers, and the environment is a very important concern for our industry. That is why we work under strong safety standards. No industry is risk free. However, the risks in the natural gas industry are very well known, as are the solutions and protective safety and environmental measures to address these risks.  Regulatory standards for these issues and others are in place in many other areas.

What causes SCVF or gas migration?

Identifying and managing SCVF and GM flows is a well-established practice in the industry.  It can occur when there is an incomplete seal between the steel casing and the cement or the cement and the surrounding formation. This can create a pathway for gas to flow to the surface.  While venting does release gas safely to the atmosphere, the GHG emission from these flows is not significant and is well understood in all regulated and mature gas producing regions.

Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) commissioners are currently drafting their report which will lead to enhancing the current regulatory framework for Quebec’s shale gas industry. The BAPE will make recommendations to the government by the end of February.  We look forward to a strong safety and regulatory framework that will govern our industry, which, it should be noted, will still be in the exploration phase for a few more years.

"Shale gas water easier to treat than sewage": technical director of Trois-Rivières water plant


In this recent interview with Le Nouvelliste, Steve Hamel, technical director of the Trois-Rivières municipal water plant, says that the fracking water is much easier to treat than municipal sewage water and contains less chemicals than regular sewage water. The solid waste on the bottom of the waste treatment lagoons in Trois-Rivières is certified by the environment ministry for agricultural use as fertilizer. Even if the city has been treating fracking water for the past two years, the The Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP) maintains its certification. We see this as yet another indication that fracking water is not as toxic as opponents say.

The full Le Nouvelliste December 7th article is available online.

Shale gas development has the support of Trois-Rivières mayor Yves Levesque


As Mayor of Trois-Rivières, Yves Levesque doesn’t mince words when he says that he supports shale gas development in his municipality. In a recent interview with Le Nouvelliste, Mayor Levesque says that he sees shale gas as an economic boon for the city, imagining what his council could do for Trois-Rivière citizens with the millions of dollars which could potentially roll in through the activities of QOGA members like Talisman. Talisman recently paid the city $192 000 for a 30-day exploration exercise.

Mayor Levesque made these statements in an interview with Le Nouvelliste published on December 8th. The full Le Nouvelliste article is available online.

BAPE: QOGA has submitted its brief outlining the advantages of shale gas development


The BAPE hearings continued last week with the presentation of briefs by the industry, by municipalities, by scientific experts and by community groups. QOGA and its members were on hand to speak to the advantages of shale gas development in Quebec. Our goal at these hearings was to show that shale gas development in Quebec is not only sound from an economic point of view, but from an environmental and public security point of view as well.

We’d invite you to consult our QOGA brief available online and through our links page.

The report which will be produced by the BAPE within 4 months of the hearings will inform the Minister’s recommendation to Cabinet, who will decide whether or not to authorize shale gas exploration in the province. Once that is done, we’re hoping to be able to continue our testing in order to confirm the feasibility of shale gas development in Quebec. We respect and understand the importance of the BAPE hearings, and look forward to its report.