New fracking touted as Quebec eyes energy
By Clement Sabourin, AFPPORT-MENIER, Canada -- Fresh moose tracks dot the ground where plans are afoot to dig for oil.
September 2, 2013, 11:59 am TWN
Quebec's largest energy firm, Petrolia, is eyeing an estimated 40 billion barrels of oil beneath the surface of Anticosti Island, an ecological gem at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence.
But it has caused a rift among the island's few inhabitants and sparked a broader debate about the economic benefits and environmental risks of oil and gas development.
The company wants to try a novel fracking technology, injecting natural gas instead of water into the ground in easternmost Canada to push crude oil to the surface.
Petrolia chief executive Andre Proulx explained that injecting water into the rock on the island would just gum up the oil.
“It would actually prevent the oil from getting out,” he told AFP.
Natural gas used in the operation, meanwhile, would be recovered and reused, he said, doing away with the need to decontaminate the water that would have been used in fracking.
The company aims to test the technology in 2014 and if it proves sound, start production two years later.
A handful of other Canadian firms are trying it too.
Quebec's Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet said the technology meet strict environmental standards before it could be authorized.
Economist Pierre-Olivier Pineau is skeptical, citing the “high risk of the gas escaping” and thus fuelling climate change.
The technology is being touted as an alternative to using water in fracking where locals fear contamination of ground water.
As the industry ramps up fracking to access unconventional oil and gas, so has opposition.