Natural gas producers support seismicity regulations, monitoring

February 19, 2015 - Calgary, Alberta

New regulatory requirements and additional seismic monitoring in the Duvernay region of Alberta will support increased understanding of the link between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said today.

“The public has questions about seismicity associated with industrial development and it is important these questions are addressed,” said Brad Herald, CAPP vice-president of Western Canada and Natural Gas Markets.

Today’s announcement is consistent with CAPP’s industry operating practice for induced seismicity, developed by Canada’s natural gas producers in response to a demonstrated link between hydraulic fracturing and seismicity in northeastern British Columbia. The Alberta Energy Regulator implemented these new rules in response to recent seismic events near Fox Creek that may be linked to hydraulic fracturing.

“We welcome this move by the regulator. Companies operating in the Duvernay supported the regulator in their investigation,” Herald said. “The new seismic monitoring and reporting requirements ensure our industry operates with the highest regard for public safety.”

Micro-seismic activity is a normal and well-documented occurrence associated with hydraulic fracturing. While hydraulic fracturing, in rare instances, has caused seismicity above levels routinely associated with this process, this type of seismicity is light, rarely felt on the surface and usually occurs near where the rock is being fractured, two to three kilometres below ground. None of these recent seismic events have resulted in injuries or property damage, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator.

“Public and community safety is our primary concern. We support geoscience that can assure landowners and the public that hydraulic fracturing is and will continue to be safe,” Herald said. “The experience in northeastern British Columbia demonstrates robust regulations, combined with industry best operating practices, ensure the safe, responsible development of oil and natural gas resources.”

Hydraulic fracturing is a highly controlled and engineered process where water and other fluids are injected at high pressure several thousand metres below the earth’s surface to crack shale rocks and produce natural gas.

More information on the process can be found here.

CAPP’s operating practices for hydraulic fracturing can be viewed here.