The Pandora’s box of oil and gas…

Open letter to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources: Your department has requested comments from the public on the 12 postings for oil and gas rights in southern Yukon.

Open letter to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources:

Your department has requested comments from the public on the 12 postings for oil and gas rights in southern Yukon.

Please consider these thoughts on the issue:

1) Once you allow these big oil companies in your backyard, it is difficult to control or manage their regulatory obligations. We cannot let them dictate the drilling methods they want to use, even for conventional natural gas or crude oil drilling.

2) There must be stringent regulatory practices in place and monitoring capabilities to uphold these practices.

3) There must be large monetary, environmental security deposits placed on the lease applicants/holders and sufficient regulations that if the practices outlined are not followed to a T, the holding companies will be heavily fined (taken from the security deposit money), immediately losing of all their leases and will not ever be allowed to come back into the Yukon.

For issue number one, we all know what type of power these large oil and gas companies hold, and we must be diligent in our purposes for asking these holdings to come into our territory. Our ducks must be in a line to make certain that all practices we enshrine in contracts are followed in order for companies to acquire the rights to even test in our territory.

Most Yukoners have driven the Alaska Highway at some time in the past number of years. How many of you have noticed the rotten-egg smell along the highway in north central Alberta and B.C.? And if you stopped at any of the highway lodges along this area, how many of you could actually take a shower, or drink the water, with that rotten-egg smell that no one can forget?

This is from the sulphur and/or methane gases caused by the fracturing of rock base when drilling for whatever, be it oil or natural gas, or even water, for that matter. It does not have to involve fracking.

This is an occurrence from any drilling into rock formations that have these embedded gases. The wellbore or borehole will travel through these various formations on its way to a natural conventional reservoir holding the oil or gas.

Do we really want this to happen in our Whitehorse Trough, a basin running from Carcross to Carmacks, or anywhere in the Yukon, for that matter? Not unless we can be guaranteed that this can be done without any contaminants into our water, land and air systems. Today we can drink water out of nearly every stream in the Yukon. Would you possibly drink water out of the streams in the areas of Alberta or B.C. that I refer to above?

I have attempted to research ways in which all these environmental concerns could be annulled and have not come up with any sure, safe method. One such concept would be to make sure all leakage is prevented from any fracturing caused by even conventional drilling. That is not only to the surface, but every area of the drilling location, for example, all the way down the drill hole to ensure no escape of gases or other pollutants into the water table. Is there a diehard method to seal off fractures in the sides of a wellbore hole to prevent gas leakage while drilling and after the drill hole is complete?

Is this possible? If it is, then we must ensure that this is accomplished 100 per cent of the time. If it is not, then we do not proceed with any drilling until a proven technique can be accommodated. Just because Alberta and B.C. have drilled for years, does not make their practices sound.

Roger Rondeau

Whitehorse