The Montney Shale Gas Play in northeast British Columbia is a world-class unconventional natural gas resource. Operations in the Montney are moving into development drilling, which will increase the demand for water and deep sites for the disposal of fluids. Provincial, First Nations and local governments, industry, communities, and environmental groups all want to ensure that water sources are carefully managed during natural gas development.
In response to this challenge, Geoscience BC met with industry and government in early 2010 and began planning for a collaborative project to undertake water studies in the Montney area.
The Montney Water Project is designed to provide a comprehensive inventory of water sources and potential for deep geological disposal sites in the Montney Gas Play area, by creating a comprehensive database of surface water, ground water and deep saline aquifers in the Montney area.
Water is an essential component of shale gas development, and is used for drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing or fraccing is a process where a mixture of water and sand is injected into the deep shale at a high pressure to create small cracks in the rock which allows gas to flow.
Collaborative Geoscience for Resource Development and Resource Management in the Montney Gas Play, Northeast British Columbia Phase I of the project focuses on collecting, analyzing and interpreting available water information in the Montney region. This phase includes three components: surface water, water in unconsolidated materials and shallow bedrock, and deep bedrock aquifers and disposal zones. The latter component is designed to assess the availability of non-potable deep saline aquifers for natural gas development (this is a water source that is not suitable for other uses such as drinking water or agriculture), and the usefulness of these aquifers for disposal of fluids.
Data and results from this project will be made publicly available. If required, a second phase of the study will focus research on addressing remaining data gaps.
The Montney Water Project is a collaborative effort by Geoscience BC in partnership with seven companies active in the Montney Play, with support from the Science and Community Environmental Knowledge (SCEK) Fund, B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport and the Northern Health Authority and contributions from the Kiskatinaw River Watershed Project being undertaken at the University of Northern British Columbia in partnership with the City of Dawson Creek.