Yukon and B.C. have signed an agreement to co-operate on the regulation of oil and gas industries.
“It recognizes that we both have resources and skill sets and we share a common boundary where collaboration across the boundary might be in our collective interests,” said Ron Sumanik, director of oil and gas resources with Energy, Mines and Resources.
“It’s also a recognition that there’s better strength in teamwork rather than working in our respective silos.”
The five-page agreement asks both parties to share information freely and co-operate on projects of mutual interest.
It also describes a process for Energy, Mines and Resources to hire employees from B.C.‘s Oil and Gas Commission to provide services or expertise to them.
The agreement will allow the regulators to “share our collective wisdom and how they handled some experience from the past and what did they do right and what did they do wrong,” said Sumanik.
“And the conversation is a two-way conversation. They’ve admitted they can learn from us and collaborate. When we broached this subject a year ago, it was a no-brainer.”
The Yukon Legislative Assembly is currently facilitating a public conversation about the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the territory.
The controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock has been banned in some jurisdictions around the world.
B.C. is very familiar with the technique, having experienced a significant shale gas boom over the past several years.
More than 85 per cent of wells drilled in B.C. today are targeting unconventional resources, according to a spokesperson for the oil and gas commission.
NDP Opposition Leader Liz Hanson spoke out on Twitter and Facebook yesterday against the agreement between the regulators, suggesting that Energy, Mines and Resources is pre-empting the public conversation about fracking by partnering with B.C.
“What does the Yukon Party not understand about due process?” asked Hanson.
The legislative committee tasked with assessing the risks and benefits of fracking has not yet completed its work, she said.
“Does the Yukon Party government have to be so blatantly transparent about its real intentions?”
Sumanik said that the B.C. commission’s expertise in shale gas development is indeed valuable to the Yukon at this time.
“There’s no question it’s a topic that’s on the forefront of the Yukon dialogue, and so we’ve had conversations with them.
“We think the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission is a responsible and world-class regulator and we can benefit from co-operating with them, and we think we have opportunities to offer in sharing and partnering with them going forward.”
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