Quantifying the environmental impacts of BC shale gas and LNG development.
Want to know how much a shale gas operation will affect land, water and climate? There’s a tool for that.
The BC Shale Scenario Tool calculates the potential environmental impacts of different shale gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) development scenarios in British Columbia. With the financial support of PICS, the tool was developed by the Pembina Institute with modelling support from Navius Research, launched in 2015, and has been widely used ever since.
This first phase of the model outputs includes GHG emissions, water use, wastewater production, and incremental land-impacts. The tool also allows users to explore how different policy scenarios and technology requirements can mitigate the impacts of development. For example, users can implement stronger methane emissions reductions requirements in the tool, or increase the electrification of upstream operations, and see how this affects the model outputs.
Current realities are able to be incorporated into the model therefore ensuring it represents today’s conditions and that its functionality remains robust, according to the Pembina Institute which manages the tool. For example, industry now reuses significantly more waste-water than when the tool was developed. This wastewater factor can be easily modelled by adjusting the policy setting for water use and wastewater management in the inputs tab. Another parameter that has changed is the global warming potential (GWP) assigned to methane, the major component of natural gas. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidance for the GWP of methane has changed from 21 to 34 times the potency of carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas over a 100-year period. Users can adjust numbers post-modelling to get current results.
This publicly available tool has helped to inform analysis and decisions around specific LNG proposals by quantifying potential upstream impacts including carbon pollution, land disturbance, water use and wastewater from fracturing, transporting and processing shale gas. Users of the tool include Fortis, which used it to evaluate emissions from its Tilbury LNG facility, releasing a study in July 2019 showing its LNG contained less carbon than overseas competitors. Likewise, the tool has been used extensively by the federal Ministry of Environment and Change for assessments of upstream impacts associated with the proposed Pacific NW and Woodfibre LNG projects. Communities and civil society groups have also evaluated the potential impact of local LNG proposals, and both Pembina and PICS researchers have relied on the tool for LNG analysis and evaluations.
With the LNG Canada project in Kitimat proceeding, other potential projects still in play, and targets to reduce methane sectoral emissions within the government’s CleanBC plan, the tool continues to play an important role today.
Try out the Shale Gas Scenario Tool