Assessors approve Kotaneelee reboot

Environmental assessors are recommending the approval of work to get the Kotaneelee gas field back into production. Natural gas production at the site, located in the southeast corner of Yukon, began in 1977.

Environmental assessors are recommending the approval of work to get the Kotaneelee gas field back into production.

Natural gas production at the site, located in the southeast corner of Yukon, began in 1977. The last producing wells were suspended in 2012.

Now EFLO Energy Inc., a company based in Houston, Texas, has a plan to get the field back into production. The gas will be sent through an existing pipeline that connects the Kotaneelee to Fort Nelson.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board recommended last week that the company be allowed to proceed with the work, subject to certain terms and conditions.

The company wants to re-work two existing wells and develop a quarry. The work is expected to take three months, and may take place this winter or this summer, according to the recommendations.

The project does not include the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at this time.

EFLO has indicated to the Yukon government that it would like to use fracking to get at potentially massive shale gas reserves within the next five to 10 years.

In the meantime, its focus is on accessing the relatively meagre conventional gas reserves that remain in the gas field.

Many of the recommended terms and conditions for the work at hand relate to wildlife and invasive species management.

The company should develop a plan for how to manage and clear invasive species in the area and report their presence, assessors recommended.

They should also maintain a wildlife log to report animal sightings to the Yukon government.

If there are ungulates, bears, bison or wolverines in the area, work should stop until the animals have cleared the area.

Land clearing should not take place during the bird nesting season, from May 1 to August 15.

If a winter road is used, it must have at least 10 centimetres of packed snow.

The Yukon government must consider the assessors’ recommendations and make a final decision on the project.

The Yukon Conservation Society has raised concerns that not enough is known about the potential effects of the proposed work on underground water.

“The project will require pumping hydrochloric acid underground to release gas trapped in the rock,” says Sebastian Jones, an energy analyst with the group, in a news release.

“The hydrogeology of the area is poorly understood and YESAB did not recommend that a ground water monitoring program be established before operations begin. Industrial activities should not proceed when no baseline data exists to help determine if these activities are contaminating ground or surface water in the area.”

He suggested that the gas field be shut down altogether.

“This gas field has reached the end of its life and it should be closed and reclaimed,” said Jones. “This project aims to eke out the last dregs of gas through the use of potentially environmentally damaging technologies.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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