Shale gas – keeping the NIMBYs happy

A good article in The Economist this week discusses the development of shale gas in Britain.   There are a few points that are worth summarizing:

The Chancellor is looking at tax incentives to woo shale gas firms to Britain because of the lack of an established supply chain and infrastructure.   NB seems to be far from any kind of ‘wooing’ these days.  In fact, the idea of government offering tax breaks and aggressively promoting NB as a location for shale gas development is not even on anyone’s table.

Another interesting point is the article recommends the government agree to turn back a portion of royalties to local communities (like NB is proposing).  This addresses the problem of the Crown owning the minerals and not the landowner in the US.

Probably the most interesting point in the article:

“Techniques that cut drilling times, boost the amount of gas that can be recovered and enable many wells to be sunk from one location all lessen the environmental impact. Once built, a well consists of a few pipes sticking out of the ground. So keeping operations out of sight of the NIMBYs is feasible.”

This is one of the great ironies in the shale gas debate in New Brunswick.  It’s opponents have talked about the industry turning NB into an industrial wasteland and ruining other industries such as tourism, forestry and agriculture.  They use terms like ‘burned out’ landscape and insinuate that the shale gas industry would turn pristine land into wasteland.

I realize this is hyperbole but I still find it interesting as the evidence is as indicates in The Economist article that shale gas is far less impacting on the physical landscape because you can bore 12-20 wells or more from one wellhead (unlike conventional gas and oil which requires one wellhead for each well).

If you search Youtube for shale gas videos you get a lot of these burned out wasteland scenes but it looks like they are mostly using pictures of the land while the well is being drilled.  Of course, there will be piles of dirt and industrial equipment on site while the wells are being drilled but it sure looks like to me that from a visual pollution perspective shale gas is far less impacting than wind turbines as one example.

Anyway the debate on this isn’t going away soon.  I continue to maintain that shale gas investment is likely going to steer towards jurisdictions that are supportive of development – within a rigorous environmental framework which protects both the public and the industry – rather than those jursidictions where 3 of the main four parties are calling for a moratorium and the main party is fragile on the issue.  Would you invest your money?

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5 Responses to Shale gas – keeping the NIMBYs happy

  1. Terry Smith says:

    Sad to see that the PC’s failed to acknowledge how the industry has conducted itself over the past 12 years. Bruce Northrup et al put the industry into neutral only to appease the anti shale activists and failed to notify the local service industry of his intentions. A poor decision by a party and just proved that they are inexperienced with the O&G industry. That move certainly doesn’t give O&G service companies any assurance in the NB system for the future. The PC’s have no respect for businesses that invested, moved and set up shop in the province. The PC’s are spineless as they offered no condolences or compensation to these businesses. Then Bruce Northrup has the nerve to tell the media it was poor business decision’s by these service companies? But what can one expect when Alward puts him as a replacement for Craig Leonard as minister of natural resources/energy when he only has experience as a laundromat owner operator. What were they thinking?

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  3. Bev Gaston says:

    The lack of sound information that is being force fed to those who fear this industry is really hard to believe+
    at a recent information session put on by ” the yes side” many of those who attended, who were against NG are people who suggest that they are well educated but continue to ask question that try to trip up speakers rather that open dilogue to reach a middle ground.although paid protesters or closed minded folks tend to do that and care little for truth ,fairness. the media should come to the upper miramichi and talk to local people who have taken the time to sort out the misleading info from the truth.But perhaps talking to sound open minds does not sell.
    this industry has been held to the higest standards of any industry in the world but still politations will not stand up and make decisions based on facts rather than politics.
    when they talk about a wasteland it is evident that neither protesters or media have ever been to a producing well to know the difference between a drill rig in progress and a working well pad.
    sad that our politicians have let it come to this and can’t or wont find the backbone to move forward and take us away from being poorer as a province then most undeveloped country’s.

  4. Bev Gaston says:

    by the way David keep the blog’s comming we need common sense from someone!

  5. mikel says:

    Well, again, BOTH sides are prone to rhetoric, and BOTH sides adamantly call the other side unreasonable. The fact is, we have no history of referendum or political action APART from protest. I’m not saying that nobody believes extreme stories, but the point is that IF you want people to care enough to get off their couch and go outside and do something, then you HAVE to be extreme in your rhetoric.

    That’s not to say that its all rhetoric. As has been noted often, Wyoming is a rural state and for several years after the industry started going, they had worse air pollution than Los Angeles. It’s true, its in the mainstream media, just go google it.

    We already have proof of this from Windsor Energy. In that case, the government couldn’t even decide WHOSE permission the company needed. The town thought they needed theirs, the company said they were going to wait for that permission, and then decided that the lease from the province was enough permission for a provincial highway that went through that town so did their tests anyway.

    THEN on top of that, the RCMP says there was no penalties available for not following the regulations anyway.

    So say what you want, if you actually think that because companies in Germany follow strict regulations that that will mean they will follow them in New Brunswick then, my friend, you are as ga ga as the most flamboyant anti fracking protestor.

    There is one thing that is VERY obvious in New Brunswick, and that is that NONE of this interest by government to look at gas regulations would have come about without the protest.

    And I think its pretty funny to read both sides of the rhetoric, as one side claims that the government is in the pocket of big business, while the other sides claims they are kowtowing to protest.

    To gauge the truth of that, I’d really like an example of how the industry was ‘put into neutral’. The most I’ve heard is that BECAUSE the government is taking so bloody long to bring in those regulations they’ve been talking about for years, industry is claiming that they don’t like the uncertainty (but it certainly isn’t protestors who are making the government take so long-they want the changes NOW).

    The government certainly hasn’t stopped the industry, the price has plummeted and so companies have said that its simply not worth their while. However, the limited testing that IS going on hasn’t stopped, and the government certainly isn’t stopping them.

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