The National Energy Board has given the green light to ConocoPhillips to drill two wells near Norman Wells this winter using hydraulic fracturing.
The regulatory approval comes 4½ months after the Sahtu Land and Water Board approved the project without an environmental assessment. The NEB stated that it “... is satisfied with ConocoPhillips’ risk assessment of conducting hydraulic fracturing in the area including a review of the geology and fault identification and the proposed mitigation measures and commitments including microseismic monitoring.”
ConocoPhillips plans to hydraulically fracture two wells this winter. The equipment needed to drill the holes has already been barged to the area. The new holes will go down 2,000 metres, then horizontally about 1,500 metres. ConocoPhillips officials said that, at its peak, the project will employ up to 240 people. The company is now collecting resumes from people who want to work on the project. Officials say last year, when the company drilled two vertical wells, about 70 per cent of spending went to local companies.
ConocoPhillips estimates it will use a total of 34,000 cubic metres of water — enough to fill a typical community water truck more than 2,000 times. Under the terms of the approval, the company has to ship all fracking fluid that flows back out of the holes out of the territory. They plan to do that by barge.
In BC about 90% of gas wells drilled are ‘fracking’ wells. Production and development are centred on three river basins – the Horn, Liard and Montney – in northeastern B.C., where there’s an estimated 3,000 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas, enough to support LNG exports for 150 years.
Positive news for the high unemployment community of Norman Wells.