PETRONAS Dams in BC

fracking hell BC

As reported in an article arising from research undertaken as part of the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), and in the context of what has been called a free-for-all in the energy industry, 17 organizations including the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) have called for a full public inquiry into natural gas industry fracking operations in BC. At the centre of this controversy is PETRONAS subsidiary, Progress Energy which built two massive unlicensed dams  in violation of provincial environmental regulations.

These 2 dams are the largest amongst about 50 unlicensed dams that the  CCPA brought to the British Colombian Government’s attention in May this year. In fact, the largest of these, the Lily Dam, is described as being 23 meters tall, the height of a 7 story building, while the threshold for the licensing requirement is 15 meters.  Following on from the CCPA exposure of the situation in May, investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk has reported that BC’s Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) inspections revealed serious problems with 7 dams of which Progress Energy is responsible for 5. As a an initial consequence, the provincial government ordered  Progress Energy to drain its two largest dams and has since government has since denied the company’s application for retrospective licensing.

Complicating the politics and the ethics of this corporate/ governmental relationship is the fact that the 2 massive Progress Energy dams, along with the 50 or so other such structures have built by energy companies on lands that are subject to the 1899 Treaty 8 made with the region’s First Nations. The Blueberry River First Nation (BRFN) lands manager Norma Pyle, affirms that the Nation has alerted the Crown about diminished water quantity, “We have been watching lake levels drop, muskeg disappear, mineral licks dry up and streams reduce to small versions of their former selves’. Further, BRFN’s legal counsel Maegan blames regulatory oversight  as “hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of freshwater in their territory is being illegally impounded for oil and gas operations. ”

It is claimed that in the CMP article that documents obtained by the CCPA indicate that all of the unauthorized dams were built to trap freshwater used in the fracking process operation where huge quantities of water are pumped under intense pressure to fracture or crack open deep rock formations so that trapped methane gas is released. And it is further asserted that one such Progress Energy fracking operation. using 160,000 cubic metres of water, triggered a 4.6 magnitude earthquake near Fort St. John in 2015.

Image https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/05/03/Petronas-Unauthorized-Dams-Fracking/

http://www.policynote.ca/drain-it-petronas-subsidiary-ordered-to-take-action-at-two-controversial-fracking-dams/

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/public-inquiry-needed-properly-investigate-deep-social-and-environmental

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PETRONAS in the Wild West

dams

There are reported to be at least 51 unregulated and unapproved dams in Northern BC built by oil and gas companies for their fracking operations. The two largest  facilities, Lily Dam and the Energy Town Dam, both over 15 meters tall, are operated by PETRONAS subsidiary, Progress Energy Canada Ltd.  The scale of these dams means that they should be classified as ‘major projects‘ under BC’s Environmental Assessment Act. requiring that they be assessed by the Assessment Office (EAO) prior to construction.  On Oct. 31 2017  the provincial Environmental  EAO rejected an application by the company seeking to exemption for these structures from an environmental assessment.The dams have reportedly been operational for many years under the watch of the previous Liberal government and the new NDP Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall is reported to have stated that their government is “reviewing the details in order to strengthen oversight going forward,”

On Oct 10th this year, while the Progress Energy application for exemption was still in progress, Okanagan Indigenous leader, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Ben Parfitt of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives  wrote that “If the EAO grants Progress’s request, it sends a terrible signal that BC really is the Wild West. Rules and regulations are simply there to be ignored.” While the EAO has finally applied its own rules, saving us from the Wild West designation, this decision leaves us wondering, how well the authors’ terms, applied to our province in the preceding years of Liberal rule. More pertinently, it leaves us wondering if, under the new NDP/Green regime, we will finally get the proper oversight of such dams and if in future there will be prior consultation with the First Nations on whose traditional lands they are being built.

Image: http://www.policynote.ca/drain-it-petronas-subsidiary-ordered-to-take-action-at-two-controversial-fracking-dams/

http://www.policynote.ca/an-environmental-mess-bc-government-needs-to-bring-gas-industry-and-regulator-under-tighter-control/

Donald Wesley

6d9c86_cae4eecfeb264be59bfe58318fa6992eOn July 26th 2017, the Federal application for judicial review brought by Yahaan, Donald Wesley in connection with governmental decisions made in the PETRONAS/ Pacific Northwest Partnership Lelu island development was dismissed. By the time it was made, however, this, once portentous Federal court ruling, was moot as PETRONAS had pulled the plug on its 36 billion dollar project just the day before. The decision by the Justice Robert Barnes, which was reported in the Northern View, was based on his finding that the applicant lacked standing to represent the Gitwilgyoots Tribe. In his judgment, he said, “Yahaan failed to produce evidence of community support” and that “what evidence there is suggests that he is opposed by a substantial number of Gitwilgyoots members,” Wesley had argued that the federal government did not properly consult with him as a one of the nine tribes of the Coast Tsimshian Nation, thereby invalidating the environmental assessment, in which such consultation is mandated. He had asserted that this flawed assessment led to a consequently flawed and invalid Federal approval of the Petronas LNG project in 2016. The judge found that Wesley was not “an appropriate person to act in a representative capacity” because, amongst other reasons, he had failed to prove both his leadership claim and his authority to launch the court proceeding on behalf of the Gitwilgyoots. As such the decision seems not to touch on the larger questions of the standing of a First Nation tribe vis-à-vis the Band Council in the eyes of the courts as well as of the government’s obligation to pay attention to indigenous law, as opposed to the Indian Act, in matters pertaining to the tribal and chieftan authority.

Image: https://www.laxuula.com/letter-to-prime-minister-trudeau-pnw-lng

http://www.thenorthernview.com/news/case-dismissed-over-lelu-island/

https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2017/2017fc725/2017fc725.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQAMZ2l0d2lsZ3lvb3RzAAAAAAE&resultIndex=1

https://www.thenorthernview.com/news/tribe-or-band-a-judge-will-decide-who-represents-lelu/

 

 

Lelu Wolf Totem

totemlelu

On Friday, 20th October, a totem pole carved by Tsimshian artist Phil Gray of a wolf and an orca fin was ceremoniously erected on Lelu Island British Columbia to commemorate the victory of the resistance against the PETRONAS/ provincial government of British Columbia/ Federal government of Canada plans for a massive LNG terminal. According to Ian Gill in his article in the Tyee Gwishawaal Ken Lawson, a house leader of the Gitwilgyoots tribe said modestly, “It’s a small pole, but the wolf is here,” Ken Lawson jointly claims stewardship rights and responsibilities on Lelu Island with Simoyget Yahaan, Don Wesley  for the Tsimshian First Nation. In the course of the proceedings, Don Wesley, who publically led the resistance to protect the island and the Skeena watershed, was presented with a copper shield by Guujaaw, the leader of the Haida Nation to acknowledge his resistance.

Image: https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/10/25/Life-Breath-Skeena-River/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/our-blood-is-still-on-the-land-tsimshian-raise-totem-pole-declaring-victory-over-b-c-lng-project-1.4367586

PETRONAS’ BC Focus

Progress-LandLease
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Progress Energy, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional (PETRONAS) has just put its oil and gas assets in Deep Basin, Alberta up for sale. Given this upcoming sale and also the cancellation of their massive Pacific Northwest LNG project on Lelu island, British Columbia, it appears that Progress Energy and PETRONAS will be concentrating their future Canadian investments and activities in North Montney, British Columbia. Progress Energy claims that it is the largest holder of contiguous areas of land in Montney and that over 13,000 drilling locations have been identified of which about 215 wells have been  drilled.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Nikkei-Markets/Petronas-unit-to-focus-investments-in-Canada-s-North-Montney

http://www.progressenergy.com/operations/exploration-production/north-east-b-c/

IMAGE: http://www.progressenergy.com/operations/exploration-production/

 

 

 

 

 

 

PETRONAS Payments

anwar-mahathir-najib-4-620x348

Reuters reports that PETRONAS profits have  quadrupled (from RM 1.68 billion to 7.06 billion) because of higher oil prices and improved margins and as a result the amount paid to the Malaysian Government will rise from the previously committed RM 13 billion to 16 billion. The announcement of increased payments is timely for the Malaysian Government they have announced massive infrastructure projects in the run-up to the general election that must be called by mid-2018. PETRONAS recently cancelled its massive investment plans in British Columbian LNG industry and Reuters quotes PETRONAS CEO as saying that the corporation is “finalizing our strategy on how to monetize our North American gas assets. All options are being looked at.” It is of note that PETRONAS has absorbed other major losses in its world-wide LNG investments for instance the Australian Gladstone LNG Project For those involved with PETRONAS and its subsidiaries in Canada, it is surely of significance that this fortune 500 company is in fact a Crown corporation, potentially subject as much to global market forces as to domestic political imperatives.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-petronas-results-idUSKCN1B50GK

Image: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/najibs-cash-cow-hit-govt-of-thieves-run-dry-petronas-suffers-additional-us2-9-bil-loss-in-overpriced-aussie-project/

Fracking and Earthquakes

fracking
According to Erin Ellis of the Observer a federal research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada has claimed that his research proves that the largest earthquake ever detected in British Columbia’s northeastern shale gas region was caused by the fracking activities of PETRONAS subsidiary, Progress Energy Inc. This was a 4.6 magnitude quake that took place in the northern Montney Play of British Columbia in August 2015. The  study analyzed the seismic activity its connection with fluid injection hydraulic fracturing being deployed in the region. Spatial and temporal correlation of seismic activity with the fluid injection in the region appears to have revealed that these events are better correlated with hydraulic fracturing than other types of injection. In other words the earthquake that was felt at the surface of the earth near the town of Fort St. John, was the direct result of liquids being pumped into underground rock formations under high pressure to extract natural gas.

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/04/12/news/federal-scientist-has-proof-fracking-petronas-owned-company-caused-big-bc-earthquake

http://www.bssaonline.org/content/early/2017/02/17/0120160175.abstract

Image: https://phys.org/news/2015-09-earthquake-baseline-future-fracking.html