Fracking experts to converge on Yukon

The fracking debate will get crowded next week, when at least three experts on the subject will visit Yukon. "My position is that fracking cannot be regulated safely," said Will Koop, co-ordinator for the B.C.

The fracking debate will get crowded next week, when at least three experts on the subject will visit Yukon.

“My position is that fracking cannot be regulated safely,” said Will Koop, co-ordinator for the B.C. Tap Water Alliance.

Koop will speak Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre. He was invited by Yukoners Concerned about Oil and Gas Exploration/Development.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial method of extracting natural gas that involves pumping a pressurized slurry of water, sand and chemicals into wells deep underground.

It accounts for a growing percentage of North America’s natural gas supply, as conventional reserves dwindle.

Koop has been independently researching and publishing reports on the natural gas industry since 2010.

He has started a website, Stop Fracking B.C., where he compiles and publishes information.

“The first thing that horrified me about it was the tremendous amount of water being used.”

Two recent reports that he has written, the Tip of B.C.‘s Fracking Iceberg, and Frack-Math Confidential, show perhaps for the first time the true water usage in B.C.‘s industry, he said.

Koop also hopes to meet with politicians and other groups during his visit.

Also on Wednesday, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce will host speakers from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and MGM Energy Group.

Although the presenters could not be reached for comment by press time, these industry representatives will certainly present a contradictory point of view from Koop’s.

The event will take place at the High Country Inn from 11:45 through 1:30 p.m. Seating is limited, RSVP is required, and the cost is $30.

On Friday, Yukon College will host Brad Hayes from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists.

He will speak about what unconventional oil and gas development means for future geoscientists.

The college’s mineral resources program will host the talk, and it is open to the public. It will occur at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the college.

Meanwhile, the Yukon’s select committee on the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing have just returned from a reconnaissance mission to Alberta.

The six MLAs on the committee travelled to Red Deer and Calgary to tour fracking operations and meet with officials.

The group must make recommendations to the Yukon government by this spring on whether of not fracking should be allowed in the Yukon, and under what conditions.

Members of the committee were not available to comment on how the trip went by press time.

Hydraulic fracturing within Yukon’s borders is not imminent, although exploration work continues in Eagle Plain.

Northern Cross plans to complete an extensive seismic survey of oil and gas resources in the area this winter.

There have been, however, several pushes to burn liquefied natural gas here in recent months.

Liquefied natural gas is super-cooled for storage and transportation. It is, at least potentially, produced through fracking.

Yukon Electrical Co. Ltd. received a permit to construct and operate an LNG facility in Watson Lake last month.

The company plans to burn LNG in addition to diesel in that community to reduce energy costs.

And here in Whitehorse, Yukon Energy is in the final stages of an application to install two natural gas generators to power Yukon’s energy grid.

Today is the final day for public comment on the proposal.

Western Copper and Gold Corp. has just this week submitted a proposal to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board for its massive Casino mine project.

That mine is many years away, if it is constructed at all, but the company’s plan is to power it with 150 megawatts of natural gas generation.

That’s more than the capacity of all of Yukon’s hydro, wind and diesel plants combined.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at