Barbara Pike, executive director, The Maritimes Energy Association As I heard the news on Friday and viewed the reader comments through the weekend, I have to admit I was embarrassed and a little infuriated. SWN Resources Canada Inc. announced it is halting its seismic operations in New Brunswick early this fall because of vandalism, assaults to workers and theft of equipment. Wonderful. The message to the world is that people in our neck of the woods are thieves, thugs and vandals, not exactly the moniker I want our region to carry. And while some of the commenters on news pages share my view, a majority seem to be holding up the vandals and thieves as heroes. And then there are the comments that are perpetuating the misinformation that opponents of oil and gas development continue to hold as absolute truths. I for one am tired of hearing about what happened in the United States. I don’t live in the U.S., and I certainly don’t hold up its regulatory regime as an example for the industry to follow. I’d rather look to our own backyard, Canada. If I said 167,000 – what would you think? It’s a big number. That’s the number of oil and gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured in Alberta since the 1950s. What about 334? That’s the number of oil and gas wells that are stimulated by hydraulic fracture each year in Alberta. The last time I checked and the last time I was there, you can drink the water from the tap. I’ll throw out a few more numbers: 30,350 person-years of direct and indirect employment; $10.6 Billion in oil and gas sales; $1.7 Billion in revenue to the provincial economy; or 47,000 producing oil and gas wells -- all 2010 figures. So you are thinking Alberta again, right? Wrong! Those are the statistics for the oil and gas industry in Canada’s breadbasket -- the province better known for its wheat than its petroleum, Saskatchewan. That’s correct -- in 2010 the province of Saskatchewan brags that there were 1,531 horizontal oil wells drilled and that it is using innovative technologies to discover and recover more oil. So when we talk about onshore oil and gas exploration and development, let’s actually look to our own country for examples, whether it is British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or even Quebec (yes, they have fractured wells in Quebec.) May I suggest we take a deep breath and cool down. Let’s look at the regulations that work across this country, Canada, and make sure that our regulations here in the Maritimes are as good or better. There are no guarantees in this world, but we mitigate risk by adopting and following strict regulation, rules and laws. Driving to work in the morning, I mitigate the risk by driving the speed limit, driving on the right-hand side of the road, having a valid driver’s licence, having my vehicle safety inspected, etc. In the case of oil and gas exploration and development, there is a litany of regulations to mitigate risk. There are drilling plans specific for each well site, pressure testing of the casing and cementing for each well, daily review of drilling reports, strict rules on handling of produced water, and the list goes on. The industry is one of the most heavily regulated in Canada. Not every onshore well is hydraulically fractured. Not every onshore well that is stimulated uses water, sand and 0.01% additives for fracturing (some use propane). In British Columbia in the Horn River Basin, Encana and Apache use non-potable water for stimulation and recycle it in a multi-million dollar plant. Is British Columbia, Alberta or Saskatchewan better than us? Are their people smarter? Are their workers more skilled? Why is it they can successfully promote, support and develop an oil and gas sector, adding billions of dollars to their economies and provincial coffers? Why can’t we do the same here? A few loud voices suggest we can’t and shouldn’t. Let’s take our lessons from the successes in our own country, and provide tight, secure regulation that adopts best practices and the latest technologies to enable development, not disable it. The Maritimes Energy Association (formerly OTANS) is an industry association representing businesses that supply goods and services to the renewable and non-renewable energy industry in the region.