Vigilance Gaz de Schiste is going to Pennsylvania shortly to review the problems that have occurred in the natural gas industry there. I sympathize with their concerns.
23,777 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania since 2005. Almost all of them were fractured hydraulically and it is estimated 4,000 had high rate hydraulic fracture treatments in the Marcellus.
Due to conventional vertical drilling or surface water handling problems there have been 26 reported incidents related to possible local water contamination. There was even two loss of well control incidents. Loss of well control is regarded by industry to be among our most serious incidents. None of the incidents related to contamination via the fracture system itself which is almost impossible at safe depths.
Not all of these incidents have been established as being caused by the natural gas industry. Equally it is possible there are incidents not yet reported. So it could be a little better; it could be a little worse; but it is unacceptable either way.
The regulations in Pennsylvania have been improved recently. Western Canada has had strict regulations and monitoring for decades.
Our industry has to strive for sigma six. This is the Jack Welch goal of near perfection. It’s possible there may have been even more incidents related to water contamination in Pennsylvania but 26 in almost 24,000 is much too high already.
We do not accept that in Canada. We can’t accept it because we drill over 10,000 wells each year. A rate of 26 in 24,000 or even worse would mean over ten cases of local water contamination per year. In Quebec it could mean eight or more incidents over twenty years.
The goodwill of farmers is too important for us to allow that. Their water wells are too important to them, for us to allow that.
Canadians are the best in the world at on shore natural gas development. We have all the same technology as Americans with stricter and more consistent environmental regulations. Vigilence Gaz de Schiste will see examples of problems that Pennsyvania is taking steps to prevent in future. I hope they will also accept Talisman’s invitation to see examples of the many 1000’s of wells managed properly.
Better yet why not come to Western Canada to see how we do things in Canada and how we care about our most important relationships – farmers and small towns.