Geoscience BC Moves to Help Diversify Economies of Forest-Dependent Communities Affected by Mountain Pine Beetle

Geoscience BC seeking proposals to assess oil, gas and mineral potential in central BC

Vancouver, BC -- March 28, 2006 -- Geoscience BC is moving forward to help stimulate new economic development in forest-dependent communities affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation by seeking proposals for oil and gas and mineral exploration-related projects in central B.C.

Geoscience BC recently issued a request for proposals for geoscience projects to:

  • assessing the oil and gas potential of the Nechako Basin in the Interior Plateau region of south-central BC;
  • enhancing geological understanding of mineral potential of central BC; and
  • developing geochemical and geophysical exploration technology to overcome the challenge of volcanic and glacial cover in central BC.

In the past year, Geoscience BC has already committed $1.5 million to geoscience projects in central B.C. This was matched by over $700,000 in funding by industry, academia and the federal government.

"Geoscience technology and research and development in B.C. is receiving world recognition as it provides crucial information for the development of our natural resources," said Bill Bennett, Minister of State for Mining. "The beetle epidemic is a major issue for this government, and we are pleased we have been able to support some actions to address it with these geoscience projects."

"Much of the area in central B.C. affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation is largely unexplored and presents promising opportunities for new oil and gas and mineral discoveries," said Dr. Lyn Anglin, President and CEO of Geoscience BC. "The next three to five years is a critical time to undertake an assessment of the subsurface resource options for the future of forestry-dependent communities in the central interior of the province. From the time geological mapping, geophysical and geochemical surveys are completed, it can take two to three years or more of exploration activities before a significant discovery is made, followed by another two to five years to bring an oil and gas or mineral discovery into production."

The Mountain Pine Beetle is causing widespread mortality of lodgepole pine, the interior's most abundant commercial tree species. The B.C. Ministry of Forests projects that 80 per cent of the provincial lodgepole pine inventory could be killed by 2013, equivalent to more than half of the interior's annual harvest.

Some of the cities and towns affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle include: Burns Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Houston, and Williams Lake as well as many other smaller communities and First Nations villages in central BC. For these largely forestry dependent communities, developing mineral and energy resources in the region may be an attractive option for revitalizing their communities and providing jobs.

The federal government's preliminary estimate of the potential oil and gas resources in the region is up to trillions of cubic feet of gas and billions of barrels of oil in the Nechako Basin of central BC, but this assessment is speculative, as it is based on very limited geological information. In addition, there are several mines (producers and past-producers) in the area, including Gibraltar, Mount Polley and Endako, indicating high mineral potential in the region. However, the private sector has been reluctant to invest in exploration for mineral, oil and gas resources because there is very little up-to-date information about the geology of the region and it is an area that is geologically challenging and difficult to explore.

Geoscience BC plans to fund $2 million for geoscience-related oil and gas projects and $3-$4 million for mineral projects in BC's central interior this year. Geoscience BC intends to work with industry, academia, communities, First Nations and provincial and federal government agencies on the central B.C. geoscience program to accelerate data collection which will help stimulate increased exploration activity in the region.

About Geoscience BC

Geoscience BC is a not-for-profit, non-government organization formed in the spring of 2005 and funded by a $25 million start-up grant from the provincial government. Its mandate is to encourage investment in grass-roots mineral exploration and oil and gas development in the province through the collection, interpretation and marketing of geoscience information, expertise and projects. In partnership with industry, academia, government, and communities, Geoscience BC funds projects such as geological mapping, geophysical and geochemical surveys, and the development of new geoscience techniques and methods designed to improve understanding of the province's geological features and stimulate investment by mineral exploration and oil and gas companies. Geological maps and reports produced by geoscience surveys are the fundamental tools used by exploration companies to select promising areas in which to invest. In other jurisdictions, it has been shown that geoscience funding generates between 4 and 5 times the invested amount in mineral exploration spending, and 25 times that in the value of new discoveries.

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For additional information, please contact:
Dr. Lyn Anglin Martin Livingston
President and CEO Living Communications Inc.
Geoscience BC 604-657-8234