Future development and land sterilization

Mayor Chris Spearman has stated:

“Drilling activity within our city limits would only make it more difficult and expensive to develop those lands in the future, and it would create no real economic benefit for our city.”

Mayor Spearman also explains how Lethbridge’s industrial businesses are located together in industrial parks in the city’s north east sector. This isolation of industrial activity is a result of careful, long-term planning in order to minimize impact on residential living. If local land-use bylaws were applied to oil and gas drilling, this activity would be deemed unsuitable for Goldenkey’s proposed sites.

However, the regulation of oil and gas activity throughout Alberta, including within municipal boundaries, falls to the Alberta Energy Regulator thereby removing the authority to approve this development from the City of Lethbridge. However, the Minister of Energy has the authority to cancel any mineral lease when it is not in the public’s interest.

Goldenkey states that the proposed setbacks for this project are 100 metres. This means that these types of well sites can be placed just over 100 metres from permanent dwellings and public facilities in order to access the extent of their mineral lease.

Goldenkey mineral rights holdings map

At present, gas wells in the area have had a lesser visual surface impact. Gas comes to the surface due to existing pressure and is redirected to a series of buried pipelines. The proposed Goldenkey Penny Project will be drilling for oil. Access roads, fencing, berms to contain spills, multiple storage tanks, separation vessels, sweetening systems, pump jacks, and large power generators are required for this type of activity.

The following photo was an image Goldenkey released with their October 3, 2013 presentation. This is supposed to represent what a well site will look like. However, it is missing fencing, containment berms, onsite storage tanks, a separator, and the sweetening system.

Oil Well Site

The Alberta Energy Regulator allows for the onsite disposal of some oilfield wastes. This includes the burial of cement returns and the land spreading of approved water based mud systems. There is the potential for future residential development to be built on this oilfield waste.

Goldenkey states that they will remove and reclaim the infrastructure if and when other development is formally and practically proposed, approved and ready for construction on the lands they occupy. Will this proposal stand if the Penny Project is sold to another company?