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Shale gas development in Quebec too risky: environmental report


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December 16, 2014 by Canadian Plastics

Exploiting Quebec’s shale gas deposits is not worth the risk, the province’s environmental review board has concluded.

A new report from the agency stated there are too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock along the St. Lawrence River.

The report estimated that Quebec could receive between $71- and $475 million annually over 25 years in royalties from shale gas extraction – but the risks to air and water quality and potential increases in noise and light pollution are not worth the money, it said.

Moreover, the report noted that the risks associated with shale gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – are exacerbated due to the gas deposits being located in the densely populated area between Montreal and Quebec City.

Fracking is the practice of sending superpressurized water down wellbores to fracture deep-bed rock formations and release natural gas from previously uneconomic deposits trapped deep underground in isolated pockets within sedimentary rock known as shale. The fracking boom has the potential to increase natural gas supplies and allow increased domestic production of resins such as polyethylene.

Several Canadian provinces currently exploit shale gas deposits, including British Columbia and Alberta. Stephane Forget, vice-president of Quebec’s federation of chambers of commerce, told the Canadian Press that the report’s conclusions are “not very positive for the development of (shale gas) in Quebec.” However, he said the government should allow several wells to be drilled in order to show how the report’s concerns can be addressed.

The federal government says Quebec has as much as 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas trapped in shale, but noted that only about 20- to 30 per cent of the trapped gas is typically recoverable.

Quebec currently receives most of its natural gas from Alberta and the U.S.