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Regulating Water Use in BC
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Regulating Water Use in BC

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Presentation by Chief Operating Officer, BC Oil & Gas Commission Ken Paulson at Keepers of the Water VI in Fort Nelson, BC.

Presentation by Chief Operating Officer, BC Oil & Gas Commission Ken Paulson at Keepers of the Water VI in Fort Nelson, BC.


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  • There are an immense number of areas that regulations for water use in the oil and gas industry fall under in B.C. The BC Oil and Gas Commission’s goals are to preserve water sources for social and ecological values, and protect existing water sources. The time we have here today is not nearly enough to delve in-depth in these areas, but I’m going to touch on each, and mainly how we regulate water use. For anyone seeking further information after this session, you’ll can find a variety of sources on our website, including the quarterly water use reports.
  • Preface with what we do. BC Oil and Gas Commission regulates oil and gas activies in B.C. at all stages, including geophysical exploration, wellsites, pipelines and facilities. Our processes include application reviews, First Nations consultation, landowner consultation and notification, engineering, emergency response and public safety, public education and compliance and enforcement.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Regulating Water Use in B.C.Ken Paulson Keepers of the Water Conference 2012Chief Operating OfficerBC Oil and Gas Commission
    • 2.  Water is highly regulated in B.C. • Water Act • Oil and Gas Activities Act • Environmental Management Act Protection and preservation are priorities. There is sufficient water in northeast B.C. to support current and future unconventional gas development.
    • 3. How much water is actually used?  In 2011, 3.7 million cubic metres (m3) of water was withdrawn under Section 8 permits issued by the BC Oil and Gas Commission.  Volumes of water necessary for well completions vary, for example: • 10,000-30,000 m3 in the Montney. • 25,000-70,000 m3 in the Horn River Basin.
    • 4. How much water is actually used?  In context, in terms of approved volumes of water this corresponds to less than 0.20% of mean annual runoff overall.  Actual water use in individual water basins is a small fraction of approved water volumes, and in most cases less than 0.06% of mean annual runoff.
    • 5. How is water use permitted?  The BC Oil and Gas Commission has delegated authority under Section 8 of the Water Act to permit short-term use for oil and gas purposes.  Maximum duration of one year.  Operators must apply to use or divert surface water from rivers, lakes, streams and dugouts.  Water licenses permitted through FLNRO.
    • 6. Sources of WaterType Source Details • Freshwater • Most common sourceSurface water • Lakes, streams, rivers • Section 8 • DugoutsShallow Groundwater • Unconfined or confined aquifers • Water source wells0-200 metres • Variable quality, but often fresh permitted under DPR • Disconnected from surface water • Debolt treatment plantDeep Groundwater • Often saline • Studies underway to find>800 metres • Can require treatment similar sources • Saline • Variable qualityFlowback Fluid About 40% reuse rate • Can require treatment Horn River Basin well pad
    • 7. Where’s the data?  Detailed permitted and actual-use volumes are available in quarterly water reports on the Commission’s website.  For each basin, the mean annual discharge and runoff are listed.  A list of active Section 8 permits is available online and updated daily.
    • 8. Northeast Water Tool (NEWT)  The Commission has completed hydrology modelling for northeast B.C.  Funding from FLNRO and Geoscience BC.  Provides stream flow data, FLNRO water licence data, Commission water approval data, recognition of environmental flows, recognition of low-flow rivers and data on water availability for every river or lake in northeast B.C.
    • 9. Ken PaulsonChief Operating OfficerBC Oil and Gas Commission