Climate Change

Unmeasured GHG emissions ignored

One of the pre-election promises made quietly by senior members of the BC NDP to me and other concerned citizens was to apply best scientific practices in regulating British Columbia’s northeast gas fields.

In another post-election policy reversal, John Horgan’s NDP government decided the only action needed was a little green washing.

Except all the political BS in the world does not change science. The BC Government is charged with inadequate regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. They are focused instead on increasing natural gas production.

The David Suzuki Foundation released Fugitives in our midst: Investigating fugitive emissions from abandoned, suspended and active oil and gas wells in the Montney Basin in northeastern British Columbia.

This week, The Conversation Canada, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, published an article that covers the same ground.

A tenth of active and abandoned oil and gas wells in northeastern B.C. are leaking, Romain Chesnaux, Professor in environmental engineering (specializing in water resources), Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC), March 2, 2020

One of the issues the oil and gas industry faces is the leakage of gases from wellbores — the holes drilled into the ground to look for or recover oil and natural gas. Methane leakage from wellbores has become an important issue because this greenhouse gas is far more potent than carbon dioxide.

My colleagues and I recently examined a database containing information about 21,525 active and abandoned wells located in the four main shale gas formations of northeastern British Columbia: the Montney, Horn River, Liard and Cordova basins. This represents almost all of the conventional and shale gas wells existing in the region.

Our study was the first to examine the data contained in the British Columbia Oil & Gas Commission Wellbore (OCG) Leakage Database. We found that almost 11 per cent of all oil and gas wells had a reported leak, together releasing 14,000 cubic metres of methane per day. This is more than double the leakage rate of 4.6 per cent in Alberta, which may have less stringent testing and reporting requirements…

Unfortunately, there is no record of the frequency of testing for wellbore leakage in B.C., nor are there requirements to monitor deep aquifers near oil and gas wells for contamination. Although current regulations stipulate that all incidences of leakage must be repaired prior to well abandonment, there is no monitoring program in place for leakage after wells have been permanently plugged, buried and abandoned.

There is also the possibility that the venting gases will contain hydrogen sulphide gas, which is poisonous and deadly at high concentrations…

To this day, very few field investigations have been carried out in B.C. to directly monitor the leakage from abandoned wells. One showed tha35 per cent of investigated abandoned wells exhibit emissions of methane and hydrogen sulphide gas or a combination of both...

10 replies »

  1. .. I would be astonished, disgusted and angry.. but
    I already knew it was even worse in Alberta ..
    If we find out that just like in the USA
    radioactive brine is produced as well
    (up to 10-1 ratio to produced oil or gas)
    We’ll then start hearing about radiated
    oil and gas workers..
    and drilling infrastructures & gear

    Extend the scenario..
    Kenney shorts Education, Medicine, Public Parks etc
    and creates 500 remedial jobs, sealing well bores
    perhaps BC does the same.. what about radiation ?
    Ww know Marcellus workers are being radiated..
    We know the radioactivity is cumulative
    in anything, anyone, anywhere
    in the drilling rigs, storage tanks
    dams storing produced water
    yes, anywhere, everywhere
    with anything to do with
    the extraction process

    And the well bores leak gases
    They call it ‘Nation Building’


  2. This runs true to form for fossil economies. Government makes grandiose promises about ensuring the tightest emissions controls and then – the market price of the product takes a hit. Suddenly the cost of those eco-assurances undermines the viability of the grand scheme itself. Rather than admit it got the state into a bad deal government begins to look the other way. Before you know it you wind up with a quarter-trillion dollars worth of orphan wells and tailing ponds and there’s nothing you can do about it without collapsing the whole rotten business.

    BTW, Bloomberg ran an article mentioning “price majeure” by which some Chinese interests are using the coronavirus to avoid signed contracts now that methane can be had for just $3/million BTU. How much nine dollar gas are we going to be able to sell? Russia is sending gas into China at somewhat less than six dollars.

    Is it any wonder that Chevron is struggling to unload its interest in the Kitimat plant having already taken a $2 billion write down? What leverage does this leave Horgan to take the gas producers to task for fugitive emissions?


  3. I’m sending this to Horgan and to Ronna-Rae Leonard, my MLA. I love having this opportunity to call them on their BS.


  4. In the February 14th 2020 Seattle Times there was a bizarre article about a fracking operation in North Dakota’s Bakken operation shipping 2 millions pounds of fracking waste to an Oregon storage facility. The waste contained radioactive Radium at 150 pico curies when the supposedly safe level is 5 pico curies.

    I have never heard of radiation ever being mentioned in the glowing fracking reports from the drilling companies or from the two levels of government. One has to wonder what precautions in the way of safety gear the workers are provided with to limit their exposure to various radioactive isotopes and Radon gas.

    I love their euphemistic term TENORM( technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material). Makes me glow all over.


  5. It’s ok everyone no need to panic. We can just use our 100 billion dollar prosperity fund to clean up all the mess and all our debt ! How much do we have in the fund now after 7 years , 20 – 30 billion ? Oh that was a huge lie and we will end up with nothing but the cleanup cost and pollution ? Well John Clark and Christy Horgan will fix that all reeeeeal quick.

    Liked by 1 person

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