The Hillsborough village water supply comes from two 150-200m deep wells and these wells lie within lands leased for oil and gas development by Contact Exploration.
The village drilled 36 wells looking for reliable, clean water supplies (resulting in Water Well #1 and #2). They now require a third water well. On each occasion, they have had to submit comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments before proceeding.
Contact Exploration, on the other hand, submitted a 22-page application to drill an exploratory oil well (called Well B55) in the same vicinity in 2011. Their license allows them to frack this well if required to stimulate oil production, yet there was no assessment of the geology of the area prior to approval of this license. Their online sales pitch for investors claims this oil field compares to Stoney Creek in potential for development. Ir appears there was no consideration given to how a fully developed oilfield may co-exist with village water supplies.
WHY DOES THIS CONCERN US?
The separation of hydrocarbons in this area and the water bearing rock that supplies our wells is a mere 400-500m.
This small area is the only potential potable water source or the village.
The region is littered with sinkholes, gypsum caves, fault lines and abandoned oil and gas wells…any of which may be a pathway for migration of methane gas to the aquifer that supplies the village, as well as private water wells.
Professional geologists, who helped our village find viable water, have warned us that this situation is our village’s worst nightmare. They have said it is ‘not a matter of if contamination will occur, but when’.
Meanwhile, Craig Leonard, Minister of Energy & Mines, MLA Wayne Steeves and PNB hydrologist Annie Daigle have all had the same response:
Should an accident or spill take place on well pad B55, the contaminants would drain away from the municipal water wells.
So, what exactly might those contaminates drain towards?
Stoney Creek and Salem Gas & Oil
Contact Exploration currently has DELG (Dept of Environment and Local Government) approval, with conditions attached, to drill four new oil wells in Stoney Creek. Once conditions are met, well licenses may be issued. The area already has 16 producing oil wells, and area residents complain about air quality.
On 02 July 2014, the company submitted a Phased Environmental Impact Assessment to the province seeking approval for the construction of two exploratory oil and gas wells in the Salem area. Their partner, Pieridae, has committed up to $15.4 million to fund these two exploratory wells in the area in exchange for a 50% interest in approximately 33 sq. miles of Albert County acreage. The company CEO has advised the Village Council that they would likely coordinate work on B55 with work on the Pieridae-funded exploratory wells.
This makes a total of 7 wells to be drilled or worked on in our vicinity. Meanwhile, Corridor is working over and fracking wells in Penobsquis.