Industry abuzz over shale gas

But protesters alarmed by environmental cost

A video, an article, and a photo from Shawn Jeffords, in The Observer

To frack or not to frack? […]

Depending on which side of Venetian Boulevard you stood, the answers vastly differed.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership sponsored a Shale Gas Conference that brought together movers and shakers in the natural gas drilling industry. The goal was to showcase the Chemical Valley and help out of town executives network with local officials, said Economic Partnership general manager George Mallay.

“This is an excellent opportunity to bring all of these players to the community … to get a broad perspective of what Sarnia-Lambton is all about.”

A key issue at the day-long event at the Pt. Edward Holiday Inn is whether the local petrochemical industry can be revitalized by piping the shale gas to the Chemical Valley.

“This offers a very exciting opportunity to bring stability to the chemical complex here and hopefully offer opportunity for future growth,” Mallay said.

The conference drew interest from U.S. firms already drilling, or “fracking,” the large Marcellus Shale deposit. Bill Wince, vice president of transportation and business for Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, said his company is interested in Sarnia.

“Sarnia is probably the closest petrochem market to the Marcellus Shale,” he said. “There is already existing pipeline that could be used to bring the existing ethane product to Sarnia. We’re obviously interested in that.”

Wince said Chesapeake is the U.S.’s second largest natural gas producer. […]

“There is an incredible abundance of shale gas and the things we can do with it. For an area like Sarnia, that may have been in decline because of the petrochem industry … it creates incredible opportunity.”

Across the street from the conference centre more than a dozen protesters denounced the drilling practices that draw the gas from the ground. The group Sarnia Hometown Activist Movement Emerging (SHAME) is concerned fracking could soon be taking place in Lambton County, said protest organizer Zak Nicholls.

“They’ve made it clear they want to do fracking here and we want to oppose that. The main reason is the environmental devastation that occurs.”

Fracking techniques use a drill to bore horizontally into deep shale deposits. Water and chemicals and drilling mud are shot into the deposit to drive out the natural gas, which is then captured.

Critics say fracking can lead to water pollution.

Nicholls said his group supports U.S. residents suffering from fracking near their homes. They also want to send a message to Chemical Valley companies with a poor record of environmental stewardship, Nicholls said.

“When they talk about this game changing event of having shale gas brought in to extend and maintain the life of the Chemical Valley, it’s great for the jobs, absolutely. But it’s horrible for the environment.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s