The question ‘would you live by a gas well’ is designed to be a ‘gotcha’ question. The presumption that oil and gas people who obviously understand their own industry best, would therefore never live by an oil and gas well.  It is another example of the gross misunderstanding our industry has allowed to perpetuate in Quebec and elsewhere.

I have been asked this question dozens of times.  Sometimes they bring a quite civil discussion to a calculated climax with the penultimate rhetorical question “would you live by a gas well?”.

The first time this happened I naively took it as a real question and simply and casually answered “of course I would”.  It took a few more times before I realized that the interrogator felt they already knew the truth.  From that point I became flummoxed.  Not by how to answer the question which was simple from the beginning.  Rather by how to convince the questioner that their accepted wisdom was simply wrong.

Finally a great chance came to prove my point.  I was part of a casual conversation at the Calgary Stampede this year.  In a casual conversation one CEO of a junior oil and gas company said to another  ‘I saw you are drilling for the Cardium (shale oil) in our area”.  The second CEO replied “we are actually drilling under your house”.

The first lives in Bearspaw, a luxury community of acreages in the suburbs of Calgary.  He did not receive any compensation whatsoever.  It still did not bother him in the least that someone was drilling horizontal multi-stage fractured wells near and under his multi-million dollar home.  Why would it? They are two kilometers away deep under the ground.

As a result of overhearing this conversation I suggested Bearspaw be added to the itinerary of the recent very successful Farmers’ Tour.  Quebec farmers saw with their own eyes that we are not bringing anything to farmers in Quebec or elsewhere that we wouldn’t live with ourselves.

So now the next time I am asked if I would live by a gas well I will be able to say “of course I would”.  Lot’s of Calgary oil and gas executives actually do.  And if you don’t believe me ask one of the Farmer’s Tour members who after the tour said they would live by one too.


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  1. Marilyn Ambrosini says:

    As I continue to review the events of the middle east I realize the USA needs to advance it’s technology in oil exploration. Shale is as dangerous as an earthquake or tsunami but here’s the difference:

    1. technology can predict the earthquake
    2. technology can predict the tsunami
    But both are forces uncontrolled by the human being; they are acts of nature.

    So my argument to exploit shale is simply this:
    1. Less not doubt or underestimate the intelligence and capabilities of people…our engineers and scientist. What is possible for a better environment comes from research and development; and we have come a long way in cleaning our environment.
    2. For the environment, well let’s think about what is happening in Syria. How far fetched is it that those chemicals can make there way to Canada and the US, let alone Europe.
    3. There are many solutions to obtaining alternative energy. Shale is one, solar another, turbine another; but they all take natural resources to operate and can be costly to maintain.
    4. But no matter which one we choose, shale, solar, etc. let’s make sure the work, design, and R&D stays in our country working along side of our friendly nations from Europe; Canada, etc.

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