Ground Water Canada

Features Research Water Quality
Geo industry looks to the future with Reg 98/12


October 5, 2012
By Ground Water Canada

Topics

Oct. 5, 2012, Vaughan, Ont. –
Members
of the geothermal industry gathered on Sept. 21 for an informative workshop designed
to help them move forward in the wake of Ontario’s new regulation 98/12.

Brian Beatty, president of Ontario Geothermal Association
(who hosted the event with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority –
TRCA), relayed to the audience in his opening remarks that the government has
been cooperative and rather than the dwell in the past, the industry needs to
look to the future.

Advertisment

The Ontario government instituted 98/12 for the geothermal
industry following an incident where a driller encountered natural gas while drilling a geothermal
borehole in Oakville, Ont. The new regulation requires an environmental
compliance approval (EPA) that effectively shut down the industry for much of
the summer as operators scrambled to meet the new rules.

Neil
Parrish, Kelly Brown and Warren Lusk were speakers from the Ontario MOE. Of
note, Parrish said there is a provision now for a multi-site ECA that allows
the holder to do one application for projects in different locations. The
certificate holder represents everyone on the sites under the approval,
including subcontractors. Drillers also have the opportunity to meet with the Ministry
in advance to ensure they have clarity on proceeding on how to successfully
proceed with the ECA. Drillers still need to do the work plan even if they are
not drilling into bedrock, clarified Lusk, who also spoke about compliance
requirements and the inspection process. There will be inspections of vertical
geothermal jobs, and he says currently the Ministry plans to inspect everyone.
Companies can anticipate having officials on site for two to three hours once
or twice a year, he says. When asked how flexible the Ministry planned to be in
enforcing its new regulation, Lusk replied that the plan was to start with
“outreach” and education rather than tickets and orders unless there is a
refusal to comply. 

“If
you’re going to work with us, we’re going to work with you,” he said.

In
response to a question posed by an audience member, Brown said there is as of
yet no timeline to increase regulation for water well drillers who go deeper
than 15 feet.

Muktha
Tumkur of CSA Group advised that there are changes coming to CSA standards 448
and 748 that have completed four months of public review and plan to be
published in March, 2013.

Terry
Clark of the MNR took the audience on a journey through Ontario’s geology. He
warned against drilling in the Otter Creek Valley, Tillsonburg and Big Creek
regions because they know a lot of sulphur water flows in these areas. There
are potential gas shales in the Collingwood/Blue Mountains region.

“Even
50 kilometres away, you’ll get different geology,” says Clark of the importance
of doing your geology homework. He also noted that natural gas is a common and
natural phenomenon in wells, particularly in southern Ontario.

Stan
Reitsma of GeoSource Energy shared his summer lessons on gas pressure and
management procedures. Holly Archer of Fleming College discussed the school’s
drilling and blasting program, sharing that the school has a 16 week
certificate course ready to offer the geothermal industry if the demand is
there. Archer indicated the course could be modified to address the new
regulation.

Mark
Duckworth of Baroid Industrial Drilling Products discussed methods for
“killing” the borehole. He emphasized that weighted mud buys you time, but is
not an ultimate “kill”.  Companies will
now need a “kill trailer” to decommission a hole as well at each site.  After the speakers were finished, attendees
had the opportunity to check out a fully assembled trailer outside (front and
back of trailer pictured here). backoftrailerfrontoftrailer

 

 

 

The
Ontario Geothermal Association plans to make the slides from the day’s
presentations available on their website (http://ontariogeothermal.ca/).

The
association plans to offer further workshops to help drilling companies get
back in business after the onset of 98/12, said Beatty.