Monday, November 1, 2010

ENERGY: Sackville not shutting door on oil and gas

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Detail of Tower for drilling horizontally into...Image via WikipediaBy Katie Tower, Transcontinental Media

Source: The Sackville Tribune, October 29, 2010

[SACKVILLE, NS] — Sackville may have denied a gas exploration company the rights to drill on municipal-owned land but that doesn’t mean town officials are willing to close the door on other opportunities that could come their way if the industry is successful in other parts of the region.

Councillor Merrill Fullerton said the town needs to be ready to take advantage of the benefits of an oil and gas exploration sector that is about to emerge strong in the province.

Responding to residents’ concerns over comments made last month by Sackville’s director of economic development, who commented that the town needs to position itself for oil and gas industry development, Fullerton said the municipality has no intention of targeting the sector itself but should be open to other possibilities.

“There’s certainly no one on this council who is advocating for drilling or processing,” he said. “But what we do need to understand, as a community, is the economic spin-offs that could come from this. We’re not going to bury our heads in the sand.”

Although Petroworth Resources Inc., a Toronto-based exploration company, officially confirmed this month that they will not test for natural gas deposits on town-owned land, Fullerton said the company has obtained 159 permits to conduct seismic testing in areas surrounding the community.

He pointed out that there could be plenty of benefits for local firms and contractors, who could provide all types of services and maintenance work, if natural gas is found in Tantramar.

“We can sit back and pretend that we want nothing to do with the industry but I think we’d be doing a great disservice if we did.”

Fullerton noted that the oil and gas industry is a sector that could create employment and increase the tax base in the municipality and shouldn’t be overlooked as an economic development opportunity.

“This supply chain is quite large and we need to understand the opportunities that come with that.”

Councillor Virgil Hammock agreed with Fullerton, noting that councillors are certainly concerned over the drilling process used to mine for natural gas, but they need to be open-minded if they want to benefit from any potential finds.

“I do have problems with the industry and the fracking that’s going to happen outside our community,” he said. “But we can’t completely close our minds to what’s going on around us.”