Wednesday, October 20, 2010

De l'eau qui brûle - Water on Fire in Upstate New York

One of innumerable examples on the internet. This video shows a Vietnam vet in a town called Candor in upstate New York who started getting gas in his water a few years ago. Apparently it started after some drilling activity in his area. And the most anyone will tell him is that he should drill a new well.

One must exercise discretion. No doubt it would be possible to stage this type of a video. Just the sheer number of these burning tap water videos out there makes you wonder. However, it would seem highly unlikely that they are all faked.

Meanwhile, a hearing has been set "to stop wells" in the Delaware River Basin watershed in upstate New York and neighbouring Pennsylvania. These hearings will occur Dec. 13-17, 2010.

There is little doubt that Canadians would have much to gain from following these events more closely. These hearings concern shale gas in the Marcellus Shales, which is a different deposit than the Utica Shales that are currently being explored in the region between Montreal and Quebec City. New York and Quebec do share a border, though, so the proximity is cause for concern, especially if there are serious issues in New York.
Canada is on the verge of embarking on massive shale gas exploration both in Quebec and British Columbia, as well as elsewhere.
B.C. has reaped billions in exploration rights sales. $404 million was raised at auction in B.C. just a few weeks ago. In 2008 B.C. raised $2.26 billion from land sales tied to the shale gas industry.

Alberta and Saskatchewan are also raising billions in land rights sales, much of it also for shale gas plays. The amount Quebec has raised by selling shale gas exploration rights has not been readily found on the internet. However Quebec does not as yet have specific legislation to govern oil and gas extraction, so it fall under the "Mining Act", which under "free mining" principles, permits exploration on a "first-come-first-served basis", with license holders obliged to pay a "rent" of $2.50 per hectare per year. Based on that the rental cost of the rights to explore 1 million hectares would be about $2.5 million, seemingly a far cry from what is being spent by industry in western Canada.

The high price of the land auctions in the west though raises the question: when corporations have anted up billions to pay for exploration rights, what are the chances of any environmental or safety issues actually stopping the process?

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