On May 25th, several oil and gas companies held an open house and educational fair at the Community Centre. The event was designed to provide local residents with an opportunity to see and hear first-hand how the oil & gas industry is working in their communities.
Ms. Trevor Beckman discussed the large displays which were arranged in chronological order from the beginning to final stages of an oil or gas project. Members of BC?s Oil and Gas Commission and British Columbia?s Ministry of Energy along with members of the oil and gas companies were on hand at each booth to answer questions.
Murray Semchuck, Regional Advisor, Public & Community Relations, and Corporate Relations preson for Encana was a wealth of information and provided graphs and charts which showed a steady increase in the number of wells drills in BC annually.
As in 2002, Semchuck pointed out that the wells drilled in 2007 so far were 46% less than in 2006 at the same point in the year. He said that the reason for the decrease in activity is that the costs of materials have gone up. As a result, the drilling plans have been scaled back. Another factor in the decrease of production is that the price of natural gas has fallen. With the warm weather, the storage capacities for natural gas are at an all time high, and since there is nowhere else to store it, drilling production comes to a halt.
Semchuk said that countries like China, India, and the USA are large consumers of natural gas and the rate of consumption will only increase over the years. He said that a few colder, longer winters like last year will cause the storage levels to drop, and the need for natural gas will increase. Drilling production will start again.
Semchuk noted the duration of an oil and gas project is dependent on the success of the exploration process. ?It can be a crawl, walk, or run process,? he said, ?It is always ongoing.? Exploratory wells are made first. These help the companies to find out where the oil or gas reserves are. Once the reserves have been established, the development phase is next and then the drilling starts. Semchuck said that the companies drilling have to inspire the shareholders with success. ?If we keep drilling in the exploratory stage and come up with nothing, it stands to reason that asking for more money from the shareholders to keep drilling is not going to happen if there is nothing produced,? he said. ?Even though the diagnostic tools that are used to locate the oil or gas are pretty technologically advanced and accurate, nothing is a guarantee. It?s all up to mother nature.?
Semchuk said said thatthe companies are giving back to the communities in several ways. Encana has started the Courtesy Matters Project which has spread as far as Colorado and west Texas. The project was started after the company met with residents from the communities that their projects would be stationed in. ?The company (Encana) will post signs telling the workers to slow down in areas where residents are walking or playing. Local radio stations will announce when rigs will be on the roads surrounding the community. The company also works with 4H groups to clean up the highways and recycled pop cans from employees go to the scouting groups,? He said. Semchuck proudly boasted that the program was acknowledged at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) Stewardship Awards recently.
Encana, along with other energy companies, donated $200,000 to STARS in Grande Prairie. Semchuck said that STARS not only benefits the region, it also benefits the workers as well. ?If a person should get injured on the job, the response time will be that much quicker.? He added, ?We ask communities that we are working in what their needs are and we try to support that by giving back to areas that involve education, health, physical education, and environmental components.?
Semchuk, when asked about the company hiring policy, said ?If you hire locally, you are going to get someone who is a reliable worker because they live in that community, and they take pride in that,? he said, ?they are the backbone which makes any business tick.?
The Northeast British Columbia Discover Energy initiative was presented by Canadian Natural Resources, BP Canada Energy Company, TransCanada Corporation, ConocoPhillips Canada, EnCana Corporation, Spectra Energy, Shell Canada Limited, Suncor Energy and Talisman Energy Inc.