Oil and Gas
Alberta Energy and Utilities Board IL93-9 states “At each stage of development a potential operator will provide, in as much detail as practical, its best estimate of the overall extent of development. This is required in order to avoid piecemeal proposals and to ensure that the overall scope and potential impacts of the development, if permitted, are clearly understood.” Despite very clear directions in IL93-9, the EUB still seems happy to allow oil and gas companies to apply for developments on a well-by-well basis.
Groups including AWA and local landowner groups are calling for a ‘timeout’ on development in the region until a broad landscape-scale plan is produced to determine future development, and provide a clear picture of what the region will look like in 20 or 50 years time.
- Compton Petroleum
- Compton Petroleum proposes a high density “tight gas” development project in the area. The company has applied for two of 21 planned exploratory wells, but future plans are likely to be extensive. Compton Petroleum’s website suggests 6 – 8 wells per section; at a 2005 open house, the company admitted the possibility of up to 64 wells per section. The company owns mineral leases for 110 sections of land along Hwy 22 between the Porcupine Hills and Cowley.
- According to the Compton website, the gas resource in this area, known as the Callum play “appears to exhibit many similarities to deep tight gas pools in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, including the Jonah and Pinedale pools of the Great River Basin in Wyoming.” EnCana has drilled as many as 64 wells per section in the Jonah field; Ultra Petroleum has applied for 128 wells per section (Livingstone Landowners Group website). This type of “carpet-bombing” would have devastating impacts in the Livingstone/Porcupine region.
- Win Energy
- In January 2005, WIN Energy received permission form the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) to drill the first of a planned 20 to 30 gas wells in the Porcupine Hills.
- Following concerns expressed by local landowners, EUB determined that EUB Information Letter IL2002-1: Principles for Minimizing Surface Disturbance in Native prairie and Parkland Areas was relevant. This directed that “avoidance of incremental environmental effects through coordination and cooperation with other native prairie users.”
- The Pekisko Landowners Association retained native prairie consultant, Cheryl Bradley, who produced the report Local Regional Ecological Effects Analysis: Proposed Drilling Program of Vermillion Resources Ltd in an area of Native Foothills Parkland. Unusually, EUB expressed interest not just in proposed well but in ‘Vermillion’s future plans in the event the present application is approved and a successful well is drilled.”
- The report highlights a well drilled in 1980, which “is still overwhelmingly dominated by non-native grass species despite having native rough fescue grassland on three sides.” Along the access road to the well, non-native plant species had invaded “within a corridor averaging 50 to 70 metres wide.”
Mining: The Burmis Magnetite Project
Update, April 5, 2004: The application for the Burmis magnetite mine has been withdrawn from Alberta Environment. Micrex Development says they plan to re-submit a revised version at some time in the future.
An Alberta based mining company, Micrex Development Corporation in partnership with Kelowna-based International Metallurgical and Environmental Inc. are proposing to construct and operate a magnetite quarrying and processing facility 11 kms north on the North Burmis Road from the juncture of highway 3 and the North Burmis Road. The magnetite is used for coal processing and is destined for mines in B.C.
The project will provide little economic benefit for Alberta but will have significant environmental impacts. The mine will eventually cover 13 kms of public land in prime wildlife habitat and ranching country.
- Fact Sheet (pdf 61 KB)
- Project description by Micrex
- Letter from a concerned citizen
AWA and Friends of the Livingstone Association, a local group of over 100 people, are opposing this project. Public consultation has been minimized. We are demanding an environmental impact assessment and a public hearing.
Introduction of non-native invasive plants is one of the biggest long-term risks to native fescue grasslands. Industrial roads and seismic lines represent ‘inoculation routes’ for invasive species, which then spread out into surrounding native grasslands.
Stock prices for uranium have risen substantially in recent years, fuelled by hopes for the future of the nuclear power industry. Prices of $7.10 per pound in 2000 have risen to $20.20 in 2004, $36.25 per pound in December 2005.
Mining companies, including Edmonton-based Firestone Ventures are currently prospecting in the Porcupine Hills area. “Our Phase One exploration program and the results reported by other companies certainly validate the potential of southern Alberta for roll-front uranium." says Lori Walton, Firestone's President. "The long term outlook for uranium is very strong; the price of uranium has increased further to $US 33.95/lb." Firestone Ventures website.