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NEWS: Shell buys 10-years of water with funding of town’s wastewater plant

Dawson Creek, BC.

Dawson Creek, BC.

This past September, Bloomberg reported, “Royal Dutch Shell Plc (has) opened a ‘reclaimed water facility’ in British Columbia (and will pipe) its share of the water from the facility to its (Groundbirch shale-gas) operations 48 kilometres west of Dawson Creek.” Shell’s Groundbirch operation involves more than 250 wells and five natural gas processing plants. The Globe and Mail trumpeted the water facility as “reducing a demand that in the past has been supplied largely by local drinking water”.

The Globe and Mail article continues uncritically, “The petroleum industry – which has been drawing about one million gallons a day from the city’s drinking water supply – has been told there isn’t a drop to spare until (drought) conditions (in the Peace River region) improve. Only one company, Shell Canada, has managed to escape the cutoff by tapping into waste water.”

In exchange for funding $11-million (of a $12.5 million) treatment plant, the company will get water for the next decade from the town.

But the use of wastewater does not make fracking water-friendly – fracking still requires large volumes of water (whether potable or wastewater, the water is removed from the hydrologic cycle), the drilling itself still threatens groundwater (both with the chemicals used and possibly the pathogens that can be found in the wastewater), and the fracking-waste fluids still need to be dealt with somehow.

It is also interesting to note – given the controversy around the Canada-China FIPA – that China’s biggest oil producer PetroChina Co. owns a 20 per cent stake in Shell’s Groundbirch project. Despite the wastewater plant, Shell will retain its 5,000 cubic-metre (about 1.3 million-gallon) a day license to draw water from the Peace River, but has said it won’t sell or transfer it to another company – for now, at least.

Web-links for more on this: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/19/shell-unveils-b-c-water-treatment-facility/, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10852, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-02/petrochina-to-buy-20-stake-in-shell-s-canada-shale-gas-project.html, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dawson-creek-and-shell-elude-water-shortage-crisis/article4531896/, and http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/Shell+uses+recycled+water+Dawson+Creek+fracking/7208998/story.html.