To achieve continuous improvement in environmental performance, fully understanding the extent of our industry's impact on water resources and investing in technologies and best practices to reduce those impacts are critical. To this end, Canada's oil and natural gas industry is working with provincial and federal government agencies to increase data collection and monitoring activities.
Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM)
The industry is making a significant investment (up to $50 million per year) in the Alberta and federal governments' Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM Program), created to enhance environmental monitoring in the Alberta's oil sands and provide data-based assurance of environmental health. The program integrates and enhances environmental monitoring systems to assess the cumulative impacts of oil sands activity on water, biodiversity and air quality. The environmental monitoring data for the Athabasca region can be accessed through the Oil Sands Information Portal (OSIP) and the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Information Service (AEMERIS).
JOSM monitoring of water quality in the Athabasca River basin is ongoing and builds upon the historic data collected by Environment Canada and the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP). As the program matures, the number of sites and availability of timely information will increase. Industry has begun to review the findings as they emerge, and will use this information to plan for mitigation and minimization of future impacts.
Northeast British Columbia Water Strategy
Still in the early stages of development, industry is working with the government, regulator, local communities, First Nations and other industry sectors to develop a comprehensive plan for water management in Northeast British Columbia that includes both surface and groundwater quantity and quality monitoring. With this data, analysis and knowledge, we will be better positioned to understand our environmental impact and where the greatest opportunities lie for improvement. Existing monitoring infrastructure in the area will continue to be maintained and reported on through the BC Oil and Gas Commission's NorthEast Water Tool (NEWT) and Water Portal.
Members in Action
Nexen monitors water flows
Nexen has a strong commitment to health, safety, environment and social responsibility in all development activity. With respect to water, they've made this commitment because of a shared concern with their stakeholders about the sustainability of surface water sources used for the completion of shale gas wells.
Nexen has developed their Horn River Basin Surface Water Management Plan. They are moving from one-year allocations, and allocations of constant volume, to a long-term allocation of variable volume based on actual water availability with a lifetime monitoring commitment. The key to their approach is letting nature dictate how much water can be withdrawn from the system based on real-time flow monitoring.