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Geologist: NS Shale Gas in Windsor basin grossly over-estimated

by Ecology Action Centre


(Grand Pre, N.S.) Dr. Duncan Keppie, author of the Geological Maps of Nova Scotia, has strong concerns that the recent report released by the Wheeler Panel may over-estimate the existing shale gas resource.

“The size of any Shale Gas resource is the foundation for any subsequent economic, environmental and health assessments,” Dr. Keppie stated.  “Before we can proceed with developing our Shale Gas resource in Nova Scotia, we must understand the resources that are most similar to it.  In the case of the Windsor-Kennetcook development block, it is the Monterey Shale in California.”

The Monterey Shale is a layer of rock that is geologically very similar to the Horton Shale in the Windsor Kennetcook development block in Nova Scotia.  Like other formations across North America, estimates for the Monterey were initially based on assessments by petroleum companies and private consultants and the US Energy Information Agency, who recently reduced the estimate by 95% based on hard data. 

“The similarity of the Monterey and Windsor/Kennetcook suggests that the resource estimates in NS need to be similarly reduced, especially as hydraulic fracturing in the three fracked wells drilled by Triangle failed to result in any gas production and only water, some saline, returned to the surface,” Keppie notes. Independent assessments of these estimates are finding they are much too high. In essence, the company estimates lure investors in a type of ponzi scheme where investors receive very little, if any, return on their investment.

The recent report released by the Wheeler panel on the potential size of the shale gas resource in Nova Scotia included a range from 43 to69 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in place for the Windsor Kennetcook sub-basin.  This is comparable in volume to estimates for the massive Bakken Shale in the Williston Basin of NW USA and southern Alberta. However, the Bakken is a simple basin compared with the geologically complicated Windsor-Kennetcook basin.  As Ryder Scott estimates only 10% of this shale gas is recoverable using hydraulic fracturing, and using the Wheeler panels' figures, only 3-6.9 TCF would be recoverable in the Windsor-Kennetcook basin.

Keppie estimates the Shale Gas resource of the Windsor Kennetcook Basin is in fact much lower, less than 0.150 TCF and gas would only be found in a small number of “sweet spots.” (Keppie, June 2014). His estimates are based on an analysis of the Windsor-Kennetcook basin, and similarities between the Monterey and Windsor-Kennetcook basins.

“If this is the quality of the Wheeler panels' analysis of the Windsor-Kennetcook basin, and is an example of the reviews of the other basins in Nova Scotia, the credibility of the Wheeler panel is highly suspect, and the size of the Shale Gas resource is likely grossly over-estimated,” Keppie stated.

Dr. Keppie a retired geologist who lives in the Wolfville area, conducted his own independent analysis of the Windsor Kennetcook basin for the purposes of providing information to the provincial review panel, pro bono. This report is available at http://www.openmine.ca/content/fracking-windsor-kennetcook-subbasin-nova-scotia-there-viable-potential.  

Keppie believes that without a meaningful and accurate understanding of the Shale Gas resource in Nova Scotia, it is presently impossible to assess the short-term benefits to Nova Scotians versus the long-term risk of contaminating groundwater, damaging the environment and health.

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Topics: Environment
536 words

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