Seismicity: natural gas producers take steps to ensure continued safe hydraulic fracturing operations

August 30, 2012 - Calgary, Alberta

For Immediate Release

Canada's natural gas producers today indicated support of the BC Oil and Gas Commission's investigation into induced seismicity in the Horn River Basin, including its findings and recommendations for additional seismic monitoring, data collection, and operator assessments and protocols that will assure continued community safety.

"Seismicity associated with industrial activities is of concern to the public. Natural gas companies played a key role in providing the OGC with data to complete this study, we fully support its conclusions and we are in the process of finalizing operator guidelines and increasing financial support for more seismic monitoring in the region," said Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer President Dave Collyer. "Continuing our record of no harm to people or structures is paramount, as is supporting geoscience that can assure landowners and the public hydraulic fracturing can and will continue safely."

Micro-seismic activity is a routine and well-documented occurrence associated with hydraulic fracturing. Both minor seismic events (2 to 3.8 magnitude) and micro-seismic events (less than 2 magnitude) were recorded between April 2009 and December 2011 by government and industry seismic sensors in the Horn River.

More than 8,000 high-volume hydraulic fracturing completions have been performed in B.C. The BC Oil and Gas Commission study concluded a total of 272 seismic events recorded were "caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults" and noted "none of the events caused any injury, property damage or posed any risk to public safety or the environment."

Over the past year, Canada's natural gas industry has announced guiding principles and practices for hydraulic fracturing. Additional industry guidelines establishing monitoring protocols and practices to mitigate induced seismicity will be finalized by natural gas production companies in the coming weeks.

"The natural gas industry has operated safely for many decades in Western Canada, and we will always avail ourselves of new scientific information, seek consistent application of best practices, including those that reduce and control seismicity, and encourage transparent performance reporting," Collyer said.

Industry funding of additional seismic monitoring in the region is also being finalized in cooperation with Geoscience BC.

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.

The full BC Oil and Gas Commission report can be found here.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) represents companies, large and small, that explore for, develop and produce natural gas and crude oil throughout Canada. CAPP's member companies produce more than 90 per cent of Canada's natural gas and crude oil. CAPP's associate members provide a wide range of services that support the upstream crude oil and natural gas industry. Together CAPP's members and associate members are an important part of a national industry with revenues of about $100 billion-a-year. CAPP's mission is to enhance the economic sustainability of the Canadian upstream petroleum industry in a safe and environmentally and socially responsible manner, through constructive engagement and communication with governments, the public and stakeholders in the communities in which we operate.