Following Quebec's announcement in early March that hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) would be limited for the next two years, British Columbia officials reassured the public this week that it was a safe practice and would continue in their province.

Speaking at a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon on the natural gas industry Tuesday, Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman told the Vancouver Sun that British Columbia has been in the industry for decades and the province is committed to the environment.

"I'm actually pretty comfortable with the maturity we have in this particular field," Coleman said. "I have seen nothing to date that would tell me that we are not out front on all the environmental issues compared to other jurisdictions."

Ministry spokesman Jake Jacobs reiterated that stance on Wednesday, telling NGI's Shale Daily that the province's shale gas activities are subject to strict environmental standards and regulation from the BC Oil & Gas Commission.

"It makes sense for Quebec to take a prudent approach as they do not have the background and regulatory structure in place like we do," Jacobs said. "The [BC Oil & Gas] Commission's knowledge and experience in the regulatory oversight of shale gas has been sought out from national and international jurisdictions, including Quebec."

British Columbia isn't the only province declining to restrict hydrofracking. The natural resources minister of New Brunswick, which borders Quebec, announced on March 14 that a moratorium would not be implemented there (see Shale Daily, March 14).

The Quebec government announced March 8 that it would conduct a two-year environmental assessment on shale gas, during which time hydrofracking could continue for exploration purposes only (see Shale Daily, March 10).