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Canadian producers set fracking guidelines
by Staff Writers
Calgary, Alberta (UPI) Sep 9, 2011

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The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers released a set of principles to govern the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing used to release vast reserves of natural gas.

CAPP's guidelines emphasize water management and improved disclosure of water and fluid practices for the technique of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, which involves massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals injected at high pressure to fracture rock and release natural gas.

Critics of fracking say it releases methane into the atmosphere and leaves groundwater supplies vulnerable to harmful chemicals in fracking fluid.

CAPP's announcement Thursday comes a day after New York state's environmental regulator extended by 30 days a public comment period on rules for natural gas drilling that could end the state's yearlong ban on fracking.

"Protecting Canada's water resources is fundamental to our social license to operate and to grow," said CAPP President Dave Collyer. CAPP represents most of Canada's major oil and gas producers.

"With the increase in natural gas production from unconventional sources such as shale, Canadians have told us they want more information as to how industry uses and protects water."

Studies indicate there is potentially 1,000 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the country, says Canada's National Energy Board.

Matt Horne, an analyst with environmental group Pembina Institute said that, while CAPP's move is a positive step, it doesn't replace the need for strong government regulation.

"We would certainly rather see those -- disclosure on fracturing chemicals, for example -- be required by government as opposed to being voluntary by industry," he told the Calgary Herald.

Also Thursday, British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark announced new rules aimed at increased transparency of fracking methods used in the province's natural gas industry.

Starting in January, she said, British Columbia will put a registry online showing where fracking activities are taking place along with details about the practices and the nature of the liquids injected underground as part of the gas recovery process.

"British Columbia is committed to the development of a more open and transparent natural gas sector and the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing practices and additives supports this goal," Clark said in a news release.

In a statement CAPP said it supports British Columbia's move to improve disclosure, noting that the group's principles apply nationally, providing the same type of transparency to shale gas developments regardless of jurisdiction.

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Brussels seeks EU shale gas rules: Oettinger
Wroclaw, Poland (AFP) Sept 9, 2011 - Brussels intends to draft European Union-wide rules on tapping shale-gas reserves, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Friday, in the face of environmental concerns.

"I think we'll get a high level of acceptance when we have the same, European common standards, a high level of safety and security and quality for environmental interests," Oettinger told reporters during a visit to Wroclaw in southwest Poland.

"The best way is to Europeanise standard-efforts. We will bring some proposals to our member states maybe in the spring next year," he added.

Speaking to a gathering of centre-right parties from across the 27-nation EU, Oettinger also said that he was seeking "environmental protection standards that enable member states to grant licences within a clear framework".

Moves to tap gas from shale -- sedimentary rock containing hydrocarbons -- have sown deep divisions in Europe amid concerns that hydraulic fracturing used in its extraction is environmentally risky.

France, for example, has frozen extraction projects and slapped a legal ban on so-called "fracking".

But Poland is pushing ahead with moves to exploit reserves thought to contain some 5.3 trillion cubic metres of natural gas.

If the estimate proves right, it would allow Poland reduce its reliance on coal for electricity production and it reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies, which cover 40 percent of its needs.

Little known even five years ago, tapping shale-gas is seen as having the potential to change global energy markets, for example by doubling the estimated reserves of the United States.

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PEW study urges Canada to suspend Arctic oil exploration
Montreal (AFP) Sept 9, 2011
An environmental group urged Canada Friday to suspend oil exploration in the Arctic, warning that otherwise it risks an environmental disaster worse than the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The PEW environmental group said in a report that it does not necessarily oppose developing the oil and gas reserves at the top of the world, but called on Canada to become "Arctic ready" and urged reform ... read more

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