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Reality Check

RC-33: Is Fracking Happening in Manitoba?

Date Posted: March 9, 2012

Hydraulic fracturing (or fracking for short) is a technology used by the oil and gas industry that involves pumping a mix of fluid (water), sand (proppant), and dangerous chemicals down a well and into the reservoir at ultra-high pressure to create fractures in rock formations to make previously impermeable oil and natural gas deposits accessible.

Fracking also raises concerns about impacts on water, including quality and risks to acquifer in Manitoba. Manitoba has no regulations pertaining to fracking, disclosure of chemicals, despite having active leases for fracking operations.

The Southwestern portion of Manitoba is located in an area known as the Bakken Formation, an inter-bedded sequence of black shale, siltstone and sandstone that also underlies large areas of northwestern North Dakota, northeastern Montana, and southern Saskatchewan. A 2008 US Geological Survey estimates there are 3.65 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil in the Bakken, 2.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 150 million barrels of natural gas liquids located across the entire Bakken formation.

The number of oil wells in Manitoba has more than tripled: to 3,000 in 2009, from 1,400 in 2003. It is estimated that 300-500 oil wells will be drilled in Manitoba in 2012.

It is not clear how many of these new wells are utilizing fracking techniques to produce oil and gas, but it is clear that fracking is occurring in the oil fields of Manitoba.

Widespread issues about fracking continue to mount across North America.

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