Hydraulic fracturing description one-sided

Contributed to East Central Alberta Review
Brad Herald
Vice President of Western Canada and Natural Gas Markets
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
March 26, 2015
Dear Editor, 

The description of hydraulic fracturing in this one-sided article (Earthquakes, explosions and leaking wells, Mar.19, Pg 4, news coverage of speaker at Alberta Surface Rights Association) bears little resemblance to the responsible manner in which oil and natural gas are produced in Western Canada, and how industry is regulated.

Experience shows - and the BC Oil and Gas Commission has released two reports on this issue which this article ignores - that seismicity related to hydraulic fracturing is rarely felt on the surface and usually occurs where the rock is being fractured, two to three kilometres below ground.

In Alberta, the industry regulator implemented rules that require any company to stop hydraulic fracturing operations immediately when seismicity of 4.0 ML is detected.

Events of this magnitude are rare, and the U.S. Geological Survey classifies seismic events between 4.0 ML and 4.9 ML as light. Operations may only resume with the regulator's consent. The article makes no mention of this fact.

It also cites an article, published in Oilfield Review nearly 10 years ago, about the cracks hydraulic fracturing creates deep below the surface. A 2013 article in the same publication provides a more current perspective. 

"Operators design stimulation treatments to control fracture propagation and to ensure that the hydraulic fracture stays within the reservoir and does not grow into the adjacent formation," the article says. "Engineers carefully monitor the stimulation process to ensure it goes safely and as planned."

Where areas for improvement are identified, we expect regulators to strengthen regulations and industry to change operating practices accordingly. This has always been the case and will continue to be the manner in which our industry operates.