Geoscience BC Can Play Key Ongoing Role to Address Concerns with BC's Natural Gas Development

January 14, 2014 -Oil and gas sector research expanding to reflect BC resource growth

"A new wave of scientific research would bring clarity and certainty to the ongoing public debate about the potential environmental impacts of natural gas development in British Columbia" Robin Archdekin, the new president and CEO of Geoscience BC, said Tuesday.

Geoscience BC has established a strong reputation as an "honest broker" for mineral and oil and gas research in B.C., with an eight-year history of producing reliable and independent geoscience on natural resources for public review. Now, through a concerted new research effort, it's prepared to address industry and public concerns about water supply and water quality related to expanded gas development and LNG exports.

On January 22, Archdekin will be taking that message to Prince George, where Premier Christy Clark is leading the Premier's BC Natural Resource Forum. The Forum is an annual gathering of representatives of B.C.'s natural resource industries, including oil and gas, forestry and mining.

Over the past eight years, minerals science has been Geoscience BC's primary focus, receiving about 70 per cent of the non-profit organization's funding to date. Geoscience BC's strategic work has helped attract hundreds of millions of dollars in new mineral exploration investment in B.C. from investors in Canada and around the world. All of the organization's work goes into the public domain.

"In light of B.C.'s soaring interest in natural gas development, it makes sense for Geoscience BC to increase the research and science related to this emerging industry," Archdekin said.

"Geoscience BC will remain focused on providing reliable and independent science for the public domain," Archdekin said, "and we believe the timing is appropriate for expanding the organization's scope. This means more investigation into understanding B.C.'s oil and gas resources."

"An important element of our work has been to enable safe and environmentally sustainable practices related to hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking', used to release gas from deep underground shale deposits," Archdekin added.

Geoscience BC is already collecting baseline data about surface water quantity and quality in the Horn River Basin, and is proposing to expand this type of research into other gas-rich areas such as the Montney Fairway and the Liard Basin.

Greater insight into the nature of oil and gas reserves will guide development at a time when profit margins are thin for gas producers.

Geoscience BC recently began a project to help determine if valuable natural gas liquids such as propane and butane are present along with lower-priced methane. Geoscience BC's research and science is key to allowing the industry to keep operating in B.C. at a time when North American commodity gas prices are often too low to cover the cost of gas production alone.

"Geoscience BC works in close cooperation with First Nations, communities, stakeholders, and industry proponents to help inform discussions about the relationship between natural gas development and local water quality concerns," Archdekin said.

The organization can also deliver the science to make informed decisions on fracking related activities and community water resources.

Geoscience BC is currently involved in a three-year water research project with the Fort Nelson First Nations, who are part of the team that is operating water monitoring stations in the vicinity of Fort Nelson.

In 2010, Geoscience BC released results from a study of thousands of drilling records from gas exploration in northeast B.C.'s Horn River Basin, which identified a major saline aquifer that could be used as a non-potable water source to support fracking operations in the region. Major industry players have used this research to establish infrastructure to use this deep saline water to reduce surface water needs for their development operations.

"We have a track record that should give everyone in the debate confidence about the quality of the information we deliver," Archdekin said. "We work effectively and at low cost to provide important independent and timely information that guides environmentally and economically sound resource exploration and development."

Archdekin took over as President and CEO of the non-profit organization on October 1, 2013, succeeding former President and CEO 'Lyn Anglin.

For more information, contact:
Robin Archdekin, President and CEO
Suite 440 - 890 West Pender Street, Vancouver V6C 1J9
Office: 604-662-4147


About Geoscience BC

Geoscience BC is an industry-led, industry-focused, applied geoscience organization. The organization's mandate is to encourage mineral and oil & gas exploration investment in British Columbia through the collection, interpretation and distribution of applied geoscience.

Geoscience BC started in April 2005 with a $25 million grant from the Province of British Columbia. The organization received an additional $11.7 million in 2008 to support mineral geoscience in Mountain Pine Beetle-affected areas and oil & gas geoscience in frontier areas of the province. In May 2011, Geoscience BC received $12 million in funding from the Province to continue mineral and energy geoscience initiatives in British Columbia.

Geoscience BC operates as a not-for-profit society with a volunteer Board of Directors. Technical direction of the organization is guided by two volunteer Technical Advisory Committees (minerals and oil & gas).

Many of our projects are identified through a process of requests for proposals (RFPs). We have two main RFP types: open requests for any applied or innovative geoscience projects that will attract exploration investment in BC; and targeted requests to undertake specific work, or calls for bids on specific surveys in order to achieve program objectives.

In all cases, Geoscience BC seeks collaborative and partnership projects that come with supportive funding. To date, projects funded include newly collected geoscience data, new ideas, methodologies and technologies, compilations and reprocessing of existing data, and applications of existing technologies in new areas.