Port Stanley Villager Jan:Feb 2020

There are now about 27,000 oil and natural gas wells on record in Ontario, according to an Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Library account. That includes about 1,200 active oil wells, as well as 900 active natural gas wells on land and 500 active natural gas wells offshore. Ontario’s industry produces about $77 million in direct oil and natural gas product revenues annually, according to Hugh Moran, Executive

he added. “We have been trying to turn it around. Expenditure is required. The industry has to step up. It is a challenge.” The Ontario oil and natural gas industry is regulated by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry through the Ontario Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act. The U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is also responsible for protection and restoration of the lakes. In 2005, the U.S. imposed a permanent ban on oil and gas exploration under the Great Lakes, as part of the Energy Policy Act signed by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2005. “Large scale offshore natural gas drilling and production operations started in the 1960s and there have been no serious environmental safety incidents from these operations,” said Jolanta Kowalski, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  Moran refers questions about the industry’s environmental sustainability to the OPI’s submission to the 2017 Ontario Long- Term Energy Plan (LTEP) http://www.ontariopetroleuminstitute. com/wp-content /uploads/2016/12/OPI-SUBMISSION- ONTARIO-LTEP-2.pdf. The submission sets out a range of environmental initiatives. “The Ontario oil and natural gas production industry can be an important contributor to the success of Ontario’s Climate Action Plan,” the OPI document states. “The industry has the expertise and experience to develop programs to assist the Government of Ontario reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. “Safely harvesting energy for 150 years, the Ontario industry is committed to sustainable oil and natural gas development,” the report continues. “There is an inherent responsibility to ensure the protection of the environment and water resources.”

Director, Ontario Petroleum Institute (OPI). The industry attracts investments of $25 million to $30 million a year in capital expenditures. The sector supports 700 full time jobs, plus 1,500 additional indirect jobs. It has also generated over $350 million in royalties for the Province and private landowners since 1990. Ontario oil production went from a high point in 1995 of 1.8 million barrels to 385,000 barrels in 2015, just as natural gas production went from a high in 1995 of 16 billion cubic feet, to 5.5 billion cubic feet in 2015. Even so, demand for oil and gas in Ontario is forecast to grow 15 per cent and 23 per cent respectively over the next two decades, said Moran. While domestic production met one per cent of Ontario’s demand in 1990, it meets about 0.25 per cent of provincial demand now. The balance of the supply comes from western or eastern Canada and abroad. Most commercial natural gas production in Ontario is sold to distributors like Union Gas and Enbridge. The Protheros’ book traces the industry’s impact on Port Stanley shores from 1913 – when Glenwood Natural Gas drilled North America’s first offshore gas well near Romney Township, west of Erieau – through the “halcyon days,” from 1990 to 2010. Port residents were accustomed to seeing names like Consolidated West Petroleum (C. West Pete), also known as Underwater Gas Developers, based here in the 1950s and 1960s. Then there was Telesis and later Pembina. “In time, the family owners of Pembina sold their holdings in one of the largest stock sales in Canadian history,” according to Lament for a Harbour. “The Great Lakes assets passed to Talisman in 1998.” Next, Dundee, formerly known as Eurogas, took the reins. Now the Lake Erie wells are owned by Lagasco Inc. Lagasco is part of the Lagasco Group, a third-generation, family-run oil and gas production and exploration group of businesses operating out of London and Bothwell since 1976. Lagasco’s Chief Financial Officer, Jen Lewis, refused to co-operate for this story unless she could read the article prior to publication. “The network of underwater wells and connecting pipes on the floor of Lake Erie does have a connection to Port Stanley”, according to the Protheros. “A gas line comes ashore in the Erie Rest area, crosses George Street and eventually finds its way to a pumping station north of the village on the Scotch Road … ”. A glimmer of the industry’s glory days may return to the Port Stanley Harbour this year if Lagasco embraces an OPI proposal to further develop Ontario’s oil and natural gas resources to meet a target of five per cent of the province’s annual supply. “Production has been declining in Ontario for the last 15 years,”

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Port Stanley Villager • Jan-Feb 2020 • Page 13

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