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/

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Progress Energy

petronas progreess
While the Pacific Northwest LNG logo belies its PETRONAS connections, the more established Progress Energy logo proudly wears the PETRONAS green.  In his announcement on the termination of the Lelu Island development, Datuk Anuar Taib
who is Executive Vice-President & Chief Executive Officer of Upstream PETRONAS, Chairman of Pacific NorthWest LNG and Chairman of Progress Energy made it clear how deeply established in and committed to Canadian natural resource development this Malaysian crown corporation really is – “Over the years, Progress Energy and its North Montney joint venture partners have developed a reserves and contingent resource of around 52 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and resource in the North Montney assets. … we are positioning Progress Energy to be one of the top natural gas exporters in North America. That’s why we are moving our Unconventional Centre of Excellence from Kuala Lumpur to Calgary. The centre, which will house a network of technical experts with similar expertise, responsibilities and interests, will deliver operational innovations for PETRONAS worldwide unconventional gas plays with its core in Calgary.” Once again I find myself swelling with Malaysian Pride and, at the same time, shrinking fearfully at the realization that what we are talking about a monumental fracking operation in Canadian earth!

FRACKING HELL!!

fracking hell BC

It is reported in the Tyee that Progress Energy, a subsidiary of PETRONAS has built 16 unauthorized earth dams in the Montney basin, Northeastern British Columbia that, for whatever reason, have not been vetted by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) . These dams trap water for large-scale fracking activities which involve injecting a pressurized mix of water, chemicals, gases and sand into the ground – a process that has allegedly triggered significant earthquakes in the region. Progress Energy seems to have built these dams between 2012 and 2014 on Treaty 8 land north of Fort St John. Treaty No. 8 land cover 840,000 square kilometres and is home to 23 Alberta First Nations, 3 Saskatchewan First Nations, 6 Northwestern Territories First Nations and 8 British Columbia First Nations. Treaty rights give members of party Nations, shared territorial rights to hunt, fish, pursue cultural activities and build burial grounds; in other words to collectively live their traditional way of life.

In 2013 the government of British Columbia announced a multi-billion dollar LNG investment by Malaysia’s PETRONAS Group of Companies. The proposal was to build an LNG export terminal on Lelu Island. This investment would have made Malaysia the largest foreign investor or, in liberal terms the greatest economic benefactor to our province. Meanwhile, the racial, religious, financial and political funk of Malaysia has been steadily rising in the wake of the the tightly contested 13th general elections of 2013 as well as the ongoing 1MDB scandal.

In BC the promised investment began driving the inherent tribal, territorial, economic and environmental contestations towards an inexorable crisis. This congruence of contexts that I call mine – Malaysia and British Columbia, gave rise to an awakening  in me of a transpacific identity and to many, many questions – Does the populace of BC have a perspective on Malaysia and on PETRONAS’ imbrication in the finances of  that nation? Are Malaysians aware of economic, environmental and territorial perspectives in BC? … These were some of the stirrings behind this Koboi Kembara Lagi (The Koboi Rides Again) Blog which I initiated in 2015.

Just 2 days ago (July 2017) it was  announced that the PETRONAS LNG Project on Lelu Island would not proceed for financial reasons. While this decision is good news for the fish, for environmentalists and for some natives, others, including many native communities feel that this withdrawal will hurt the economy and consequently the social fabric of society. For the present at least, it seems that the Skeena river and Lelu island are safe from environmental degradation by PETRONAS developments in the context of BC’s resource economy. This relief is however very local, to Lelu island. In the bigger a provincial picture we find that this powerful Malaysian crown corporation is already well entrenched in our LNG economy and, as expressed in the Tyee atticle, involved in environmental controversies that are poorly reported by BC’s mainstream news media.

The Lelu island project was, for PETRONAS, part of a downstreaming exercise designed to maximize profits from PETRONAS’ own primary resource assets that have been developed more discreetly in British Columbia over a much longer period of time. Indeed, the Lelu terminal was intended to bring mainly PETRONAS’ LNG to PETRONAS’ markets in China. The terminal is now not happening but the fracking and its consequences continue. This blog will now follow these activities more closely in search of answers to the abiding question – Can information flows follow global capital and create truly transnational networks and communities of contestation and accord or does the new communications medium create solipsistic circuits of ‘social’ media?  As the Koboi continues his wanderings and his art this Koboi Kembara Lagi blog will go on exploring the implications of Malaysian investments in British Columbia.

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

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

http://treaty8.bc.ca/treaty-8-accord/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33447456