March 07, 2018 Groundwater Monitoring Research Project Launched for Northeast B.C.
Vancouver, BC - March 7, 2018 - The BC Oil and Gas Commission (Commission), Geoscience BC, the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University and the University of Calgary are collaborating on a research project to install 30 new groundwater monitoring wells within the Peace Region in northeast B.C.
"The Commission oversees the safe development and operation of oil and gas wells in British Columbia. Data from these new research groundwater monitoring wells will provide more information to our specialists and help strengthen the Commission's oversight of the oil and gas industry," said Commissioner Paul Jeakins.
"Potential impacts to groundwater from energy resource development are controversial and scientifically-based answers to many questions related to this are needed. In particular, more information is needed on groundwater conditions in areas of resource development in B.C., including levels of methane and other hydrocarbons close to oil and gas wells. This new research project will generate high quality scientific data to address concerns related to resource development in the Peace Region" said Dr. Aaron Cahill, Principal Investigator of the project and Co-Director of UBC's Energy and Environment Research Initiative.
"These 30 wells will provide a legacy of permanent scientifically-designed monitoring wells. This infrastructure will allow ongoing monitoring of groundwater trends and cumulative effects in northeast B.C. for decades to come," said Geoscience BC Chief Scientific Officer Carlos Salas.
Beginning this summer, a research team, led by the Energy and Environment Research Initiative (EERI) at UBC, with collaboration from the Commission and Geoscience BC, is establishing a groundwater monitoring network in the Peace Region consisting of 30 new scientifically designed wells. Combined with a regimented sampling program, the project will characterize if methane is present in northeast B.C. groundwater, and if so, how much, its origins and prevalence in areas near to oil and gas development.
The project team will install its first eight monitoring wells in the Peace Region this summer. The field program will continue next year, as more wells will be drilled in the spring and completed in the fall of 2019, with the project concluding in spring 2020.
The project will:
Assess baseline groundwater conditions including methane levels in the Peace Region of northeast B.C.
Build on and/or complement the existing suite of methane-related research underway at UBC and elsewhere.
Provide data to support the Commission's regulatory policy and technical guidance related to groundwater protection and gas migration.
Provide data to support other government science initiatives and regulatory policies related to groundwater (for example, the B.C. government's domestic well sampling program and aquifer mapping and science initiatives).
Support the long term sustainability and viability of continued oil and gas development in the Montney region.
Address recommendations related to groundwater monitoring made in several previous reports.
Support the mandate of the Northeast Water Strategy.
Include community and First Nations engagement as a key element.