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  1. Categories: Uncategorized

    Welcoming a New Voice: The Center for Sustainable Shale Development

    Experts predict that natural gas prices are expected to remain affordable for Ontarians through to at least 2025. That’s because of the discovery of massive natural gas supplies in North America, one of which is the Marcellus shale gas basin, lying under parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. This natural gas renaissance began delivering some of its benefits to Ontario doorsteps recently. Our access to this massive supply is, in part, why Ontarians are experiencing affordable natural gas—with prices for residential customers that are, on average, $400 less today compared to just five years ago.

    As the discussion on shale continues, ONGA supports the adherence to smart regulations that provide environmental protection at all stages of the development process. To this end, ONGA acknowledges a new Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based organization, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which has been established to help set standards and facilitate collaboration and discussion on the extraction of this important fuel resource.  The work of the Centre for Sustainable Shale Development will help provide valuable information for industry and government as they collaborate to strengthen regulations to ensure smart, modern regulations are in place to further protect the environment, public health and safety while realizing the full economic and environmental benefits of natural gas. Advancements in the technologies used to extract natural gas continue to improve and are already delivering results.  An example, improved technologies that allow producers to recycle the water reduces the overall amount of water consumed in the extraction process.  While we as Ontarians will benefit from clean and affordable natural gas for many years to come, our enduring priority is to balance our needs for energy with our need to respect the environment.

    What do you think the Center for Sustainable Shale Development will contribute to the future of natural gas development? Let us know in the comments.

  2. Categories: Uncategorized

    The Straight Goods on Fracking and Water

    In the documentary, GasLand, a Colorado man turns on his kitchen faucet and ignites what comes out of it, blaming nearby natural gas drilling. While this image certainly makes for dramatic movie making, it does precious little for the actual truth (the phenomenon was due to an improperly dug water well and had nothing to do with natural gas drilling).

    “Fracking” (slang for hydraulic fracturing; the method used to extract shale natural gas) is routinely blamed for adversely affecting water. Not a drop has been grounded in reality.

    MYTH #1: Fracking strains water resources.

    Untrue. While fracking fluid is 99.5% made up of water and sand, as a percentage of total consumption, fracking is considered a light industrial user. Of all the water we use, natural gas production utilizes less than 1% of it. Compare that to municipal/public use (82.5%), irrigation (6%), industry/mining (4.5%), and power generation (4%). And far less water than most other sources in our energy mix. Plus, the already heavily regulated industry is innovating and reducing the amount of water it uses, all the time – by improving the fracking process and reusing water when possible.

    MYTH #2: Fracking pollutes our drinking water.

    Untrue. Underground water tables exist under a few hundred metres deep, while fracking occurs well below 3000-4000 metres with solid, impermeable rock in between. Properly executed fracturing is high regulated by Environment Canada. That means the industry employs best drilling practices – using pressure-treated steel casings, cemented into place to prevent fluids from migrating into water wells. They also maintain oversight, inspection and enforcement of all existing regulations.

    If you’d like to share your comments about fracking or natural gas, please add them to the comments below.


    IGU (2012). Shale Gas: The Facts about the Environmental Concerns http://powerelectronics.com/content/debunking-fracking-myths

  3. Categories: Business

    A Retool and Refuel for the Great Lakes

    Shell Canada plans to build a small-scale, liquefied natural gas plant (LNG) at its refinery near Sarnia. Once regulatory approvals are secured, their “Great Lakes Corridor Project” will require 50 to 100 short-term construction jobs.

    But new jobs aren’t the only great story here.

    The refinery is expected to be the first LNG facility in eastern Canada, producing over 1.51 million litres per day. Its strategic location on the St. Clair River, which connects the upper and lower Great Lakes and proximity to Michigan are key – allowing for supply to marine, rail and truck customers. (The area already services about 80 Canadian and 65 American ships.)

    With new regulations forcing upgrades to marine emissions systems on an already beleaguered shipping industry (deeply dependent on diesel) the facility has been described as a “game-changing event.” This development will immediately lower fuel costs by roughly 30%.

    Though the plant is three years off, companies are already taking notice. Montreal-based Canadian Steamship Lines is investigating conversion. Another company is already on board – the Interlake Steamship Company will be converting their existing diesel fleet to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas.

    Though the St. Lawrence Seaway’s never seen an LNG-fuelled ship, seaway management said there’s no reason it can’t happen. “LNG is certainly becoming a more important fuel source,” said spokesman Andrew Bogora, “and the economic argument for LNG is certainly one that shippers are taking note of.”

    With a new facility planned for Geismar, La. (serving the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts) and the massive 12-million tonne export plant planned for Kitimat, B.C. natural gas seems to be part of a changing tide.

    We’d like to hear your perspective on the economic possibilities of converting to natural gas in the comments below.


    Source: Globe and Mail, 5 Mar. 2013, at