In November 2018, when the Progressive Conservatives added an amendment to the moratorium on fracking to the throne speech, they opened the door for oil and gas exploration in Albert County. The amendment reads as follows:
“We recognize that communities in and around the town of Sussex, including McCully Field and extending southeasterly to the Frederick Brook Shale, where natural gas exploration and production has been safely taking place on leaseholds for close to 20 years, have demonstrated their desire to proceed with shale gas development. We urge the government to take necessary steps to respect the wishes of these specific communities.”
The amendment was passed with the support of the People’s Alliance members, who had pre-election claimed they did not support fracking, but now said it was okay for other ridings. (It must be noted that Hillsborough, Riverside-Albert and Alma village councils have said they do NOT support oil and gas developments in their communities.)
Frederick Brook Shale Play
We don’t often think of the geologic layers beneath our feet, so most may not realize that the Frederick Brook Shale formation extends from west of Sussex, through Penobsquis and Elgin, Turtle Creek, Rosevale and Albert Mines to Hillsborough, as well as parts of Memramcook, Taylor Village, Dover and Saint-Joseph. While it’s a deep formation, there several of these areas where it comes to the surface.
Corridor Resources, which holds leases in the Sussex area, currently has 32 producing gas wells on 11 pads, which it operates seasonally (when gas prices are highest). Since 2003, the province has earned $21.6 million dollars in oil and gas royalties (most years, we earned more in royalties from peat moss). According to the Natural Gas Group website, the company has invested $500M in infrastructure; 25% of this was spent locally.
Should the moratorium be lifted permanently, Corridor has expressed interest in drilling five vertical exploratory wells between Penobquis and Elgin, re-fracturing three existing wells, identifying ‘sweet spots’ and drilling up to five additional horizontal wells. They would need a financing partner, with approximate costs of $70M. As yet, no plan has been identified to deal with the flowback wastewater.
What this means for Albert County
Corridor envisions the potential for 1400 wells in the FBS. Even a fraction of this would change the landscape from Elgin to Hillsborough into an industrial zone. If the moratorium is lifted, the other Hillsborough area leaseholders (Orlen Upstream and Pieridea Energy) may want to start developing their leases. Pieridea is constructing an LNG export terminal in Goldsboro, NS and their New Brunswick holdings have potential to supply gas for exports. Before the moratorium (and turning their holdings over to Pieridea) Contact Exploration registered an EIA for two exploratory gas wells in the Salem area.
To determine if your home lies in or near a leased area, visit GNB mapping applications website and choose the Oil and Natural Gas (ONG) Viewer.New Brunswick would have to permit hundreds of wells to be drilled every year for a viable, worthwhile industry. This means Albert County is poised for industrialization. How does this pair with the completion of the Fundy Trail, our status as an eco-tourism destination, part of the Amazing Places network, and the UNESCO designated Fundy Biosphere Reserve? How would this impact existing tourism operators, agriculture producers, outdoor recreation, wildlife, rural living, traffic, highway infrastructure, water supplies?
What does this kind of industrialization look like? The following image is a frack zone near Fox Creek, AB, which has experienced an increasing number of earthquakes related to fracking; it’s approximately the same area as the Albert County image above. The small squares connected by roads and pipelines are well pads, each with multiple wells.
Repeatedly, this government has stated it would lift the moratorium for communities that want it. But we’ve see no effort to accurately and transparently assess community support, or ensure communities have the information they need to make a valued judgement.
Therefore, WEPAC is co-sponsoring a series of information sessions with consulting petroleum geologists, Drs. Bruce and Marian Langhus, and Jim Emberger from the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. During the presentation, you’ll learn the real process from industry specialists, better understand the impacts on community/climate, assess the benefits, and receive an overview of how the industry is faring in BC, AB and SK. Q&A to follow.
HILLSBOROUGH: Monday, Mar. 25, 6:30-8:30pm, Hillsborough Legion, 31 Legion St.
ELGIN: Tuesday, Mar. 26, 6:30-8:30pm, Elgin Fire Hall, 2 Gowland Mtn Rd
SUSSEX: Wednesday, Mar. 27, 6:30-8:30pm – Sussex Public Library, 46 Magnolia Dr.