Fracking for Natural Gas in British Columbia: 6 Questions & Answers

Hydraulic Fracturing in British Columbia - Questions and Answers

Anti-Canadian natural gas activists are making some unsubstantiated claims aimed at scaring people about responsible resource development in B.C.

We would like to set the record straight.

Such bold claims deserve intense scrutiny, as we strive to initiate balanced and fact-based discussions around our world-class energy sector – and why the world needs more Canadian natural resources, not less.

Below are a handful of questions surrounding natural gas fracking in British Columbia, along with answers that suggest we look twice at such claims made by opponents of Canadian energy. Also see:

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Q. What is hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” in B.C., and how does it work?

A. To extract natural gas from deep underground rock formations, a process called hydraulic fracturing is sometimes used. This involves creating small space in the rock to allow the gas to flow into a well and up to the surface [2].

The process begins by pumping a combination of water, sand, and a small amount of chemical additives down a well and into the rock formation at high pressure. The permeable sand helps keep the fractures open once the pumping stops, allowing the gas to flow more easily [2].

In British Columbia, hydraulic fracturing occurs at depths over four kilometres deep, below layers of impermeable rock. Most of these wells are situated in the Montney play, a region of approximately three million hectares in the northwest area of the province, near the Alberta border [2].

Q. Does “fracking” in B.C. for natural gas contaminate groundwater?

A. Hydraulic fracturing has proven to be safe and efficient. Existing in British Columbia since the 1960s, no incidence of groundwater contamination from fracking has occurred [1].

Fracking is performed at a depth that is far below the location of potable water sources and domestic water wells. Typically, these water sources are located 18 to 150 metres below the surface, while natural gas wells are drilled anywhere from 1.7 to 4 kilometres deep depending on the location of the target formation [1].

These wells are lined with a thick cement barrier that encapsulates steel casing which creates an impermeable membrane between the extraction procedure and the environment.

Additionally, natural gas operators are not allowed to drill wells within 200 metres of a domestic water source [1].

Q. What else helps prevent "fracking" from contaminating B.C.’s water supplies?

A. Apart from world-class drilling methods and regulations to prevent water contamination from fracking for natural gas, geological barriers also prevent the migration of hydraulic fracturing fluids into potable water sources [1].

Native to British Columbia’s geology are numerous, naturally impermeable rock layers between any potable water zone located anywhere from 18 to 150 metres deep and the natural gas wells which are fracked at distances of anywhere from 1.7 to 4 kilometres deep [1].

Q. Do natural gas companies in B.C. use too much water in operations?

A. The natural gas sector uses less than 0.2 per cent of annual runoff in northeastern B.C. for fracturing purposes, meaning there is little to no impact on instream water flows [1].

Runoff is defined as the rain, snow or ice water that drains into provincial lakes and rivers over a year [1].

Q. What kind of regulations are B.C. natural gas operators held to?

A. Natural gas activities in B.C., including “fracking,” are subject to stringent regulations, in addition to compliance and enforcement actions by the BC Oil and Gas Commission [1].

B.C. has some of the most modernized regulations in the world for shale gas development. Regulations were updated in response to the growth of the natural gas industry and the emergence of unconventional gas exploration techniques [1].

Q. Who is responsible for enforcing B.C.’s "fracking" rules and regulations?

A. BC’s Oil and Gas Commission hires professional geologists, engineers, hydrologists, agrologists and environmental analysts who ensure the industry is following the province’s rules and regulations set forth for the responsible development of natural gas resources [1].

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The next time you hear about how fracking is contaminating B.C.’s water supplies, you should now know to see right through such misinformation.

In the meantime, we invite you to join us online at Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to engage in more balanced, fact-based and non-partisan discussions on natural resources and why the world needs more responsibly produced Canadian natural gas – not less!

We hope to see you there!


1 - Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Hydraulic fracturing in British Columbia. Newsroom. Date Accessed: April 2023, Retrieved from

2 - British Columbia Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society. (n.d.). Hydraulic fracturing. BC Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society. Date Accessed: April 2023, Retrieved from

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