Don’t fear fracking

Following the completion of a legislative report on hydraulic fracturing, the Yukon government is in a better position to assess the potential of its natural gas resources. 

COMMENTARY

BY Brad Herald

Following the completion of a legislative report on hydraulic fracturing, the Yukon government is in a better position to assess the potential of its natural gas resources. This opportunity should be explored further to determine if it can help meet increasing energy demand, in Canada and beyond.

In jurisdictions where hydraulic fracturing is a long-standing practice, such as British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, experience demonstrates the process is done safely and responsibly, a result of robust regulations and industry best practices. More than 215,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan over the past 60 years. This experience also demonstrates the significant economic and social benefits linked to development, including job creation, royalty and tax payments, and other contributions to communities.

While it is unknown at present how much natural gas actually exists in Yukon, a federal government estimate indicates there may be 17 trillion cubic feet in place, enough to meet Yukon’s needs for more than 10,000 years at current demand levels. This means the potential for a cheap, local fuel source in an area where fuel is currently extremely expensive.

Hydraulic fracturing, a process used for more than 60 years in Western Canada, is necessary to access these resources, typically found between two and three kilometres below ground, up to 10 times deeper than drinking water sources.

Canada is recognized as a leader in developing oil and natural gas from shale safely and responsibly through hydraulic fracturing, a process used every day across North America.

Through directives outlined by provincial regulators, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the BC Oil and Gas Commission in British Columbia, industry activities are regulated to ensure the health and safety of the public. In the Northwest Territories the Office of the Regulator of Oil and Gas Operations oversees safe, responsible oil and gas development.

According to a study commissioned by Natural Resources Canada, greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas produced from shale rock – taking into account all stages of production, processing, transportation and the use of fuel gas – are about four per cent higher than from conventional natural gas production and use. Even with the four per cent included, natural gas used in power generation emits significantly fewer greenhouse gases than and far fewer smog-causing air pollutants than diesel and coal fuels.

A 2012 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that examined the U.S. industry said: “It is clear that the production of shale gas and specifically the associated hydraulic fracturing operations have not materially altered the total GHG emissions from the natural gas sector.”

Resource development could also mean an economic opportunity for Yukon. Looking at the benefits of natural gas development in other jurisdictions serves as an indicator of potential benefits.

According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, in 2010 the natural gas sector employed more than 172,000 Canadians directly and indirectly. By the year 2035 this number is expected to nearly double to 317,000 jobs across Canada. Over the next 25 years, people employed in natural gas could earn as much as $339 billion.

Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources vision states: “Yukon will have a sustainable and secure energy sector that is environmentally, economically and socially responsible; developing and using energy resources to meet Yukon’s energy needs and generating benefits for Yukon people, both now and for generations to come.”

In fact, developing Yukon’s natural gas resource meets all seven of the government’s energy principles.

Natural gas development can be sustainable, provide energy security, allow self-sufficiency, optimize natural benefits, fit with climate change policy coordination, create an opportunity for Yukon to be a leader in responsible development, and present opportunities for partnerships.

The opportunity should be pursued.

Brad Herald is vice-president of Western Canada and natural gas markets for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

City of Whitehorse staff will report back to city council members in three months, detailing where efforts are with the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2024. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council adopts wildfire risk reduction plan

Staff will report on progress in three months

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 25, 2020

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Most Read