Originally published in Blakes Bulletin on
On January 30, 2012, the Canadian Association of Petroleum
Producers (CAPP) announced new voluntary Canada-wide operating
practices for hydraulic fracturing operations (the Operating
Practices). The Operating Practices bolster existing water
management practices and fluids reporting with respect to the
development of unconventional natural gas, such as shale gas and
Hydraulic fracturing also called fracking is the process of
pumping a fluid or gas, usually containing sand, down a natural gas
well to create pressure which results in the cracking or fracturing
of the surrounding rock. The fluid and sand then flow into the
cracks and when the pumping pressure is relieved, the water
disperses, leaving a thin layer of the sand to prop open the cracks
which allows natural gas to flow to the well. While widely regarded
by industry as a safe and effective process, there has been recent
public concern over fracking fluids and potential contamination of
Overview of Operating Practices
The Operating Practices were developed in concert with natural
gas producers in support of the industry's
Guiding Principles for Hydraulic Fracturing, which were
released by CAPP in September 2011. The Operating Practices
represent a transparent and responsible approach to water
management, protection of water resources during sourcing, use and
handling and continuous improvement in fracking operations.
In addition to recommending compliance with regulations related
to fracking operations and water use and protection, the Operating
Practices set out a number of principles and practices
fracturing fluid additive disclosure
fracturing fluid risk assessment and management
baseline groundwater testing
wellbore construction and quality assurance
water sourcing, measuring and reuse
fluid transport, handling, storage and disposal.
Although voluntary, the Operating Practices are intended to
apply to all CAPP members that explore for and produce natural gas
Impact of Operating Practices
The Operating Practices are part of the natural gas
industry's ongoing effort to ensure transparency and
responsible resource development. They represent an encouraging
step towards assuring stakeholders that fracking is safe and that
water resources will be protected.
Despite the fact that Canada is home to abundant unconventional
natural gas sources, regulations specific to fracking and fracking
fluids disclosure have not been passed in most provinces.
To date, British Columbia is the only province in Canada that
enforces the public disclosure of fracking ingredients. It is
expected that the Operating Practices will set the standard for new
and complement existing regulatory requirements regarding fracking
and fracking fluids disclosure.
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