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Oil & Gas Appeal Tribunal extends deadline in CEP appeal of permit suspension

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Oil & Gas Appeal Tribunal of B.C. has revised the timeline for Canada Energy Partners’ appeal of the British Columbia Oil & Gas Commission’s suspension of CEP’s license to operate a water disposal well near the Peace Canyon Dam.

BC Hydro asked the tribunal to extend the deadline on submissions related to the appeal, which must now be delivered by July 20th, after which the Tribunal will render a decision. Canada Energy Partners’ disposal well is located 3.3 kilometres away from the Peace Canyon Dam, which prompted the OGC to suspend CEP’s well permit back in March.

OGC spokesperson Phil Rygg said in an email that the Commission suspended CEP’s license proactively to “mitigate a potential risk to public safety and protect the environment.” A technical review of how induced seismic activity from the disposal well might impact the dam was recently completed by an external consultant.

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Canada Energy Partners pointed out in a statement that the review found that, “A pulse type motion, as is expected from a low to moderate induced seismic event, is considered to have a reduced probability of causing failure or damage to the Peace Canyon Dam… We have not identified any compelling reason for induced seismicity to result in significant damage to, or an outright failure, of the Peace Canyon Dam.

Based on the recorded history of fracking and injection well induced seismic events in northeast BC, and provided that reinjection conditions remain similar to the practice to date, the probability of significant damage or a failure occurring is within expected norms for life safety, based on the British Columbia Building Code and our present understanding of the stability of the PCD structure.”

However, the OGC’s Chief Engineer Maya Kennedy said in a letter on June 16th to Canada Energy Partners that, “I write to advise that the Commission is considering taking action under section 26(1 )(c) of the Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA) to cancel the above noted Well Permit.”

In her letter, Kennedy explained that, “The Commission has considered that while the potential for complete failure of the Peace Canyon dam is extremely low, the damage potential from induced seismicity is more difficult to assess. There are outstanding concerns an induced seismic event could generate peak ground accelerations necessary to impact the Peace Canyon dam. Faulting in the area of the Peace Canyon dam is complex and there is currently limited fault, pore pressure, stress, fracture and reservoir quality data available.”

Rygg said that the suspension order remains in effect until a final decision is made.

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