As gas prices continue to fall, many Canadians are wondering how the province can ensure it will be able to maintain supply during a fracking disaster, or how the government will keep the industry operating.
The answer is to keep the gas flowing, experts say.
That’s because if there is a natural gas shortage, it can be devastating to the economy, said David MacKinnon, an economist at Queen’s University in Kingston.
“The government’s responsibility is to manage the economy to ensure the resources are available to support the economy,” he said.
“But in a worst-case scenario, you can’t manage a gas industry that has a supply crisis.”
The federal government, which is responsible for regulating the gas industry, says it will provide $1.4 billion over five years to support gas producers in the oil sands.
The federal and provincial governments have committed to providing support to the oil and gas industry to ensure there is enough gas to meet the needs of those companies.
But the provinces have not committed to any specific measures, or to spending any money specifically for gas shortages, said Michael Bamberger, vice-president of government relations at Natural Resources Canada.
“There is no agreement on how we’re going to deal with this.” “
We have some things that are in place to try to reduce the impacts on the economic environment, but we don’t know exactly what those are,” he added.
“There is no agreement on how we’re going to deal with this.”
As gas has fallen in price, a lot of people are worried about the safety of their homes.
But experts say the risks to homes in remote areas are relatively small.
In the oil-producing areas, for example, the risks are much lower because people are living near the pipelines, said Jason Blais, a professor at the University of Calgary.
The average life expectancy for a person in the energy sector is more than 10 years, he said, and that’s a lot longer than the life expectancy in rural communities.
“When people are getting sick or they are getting injured, it’s because they’re living next to pipelines,” said Blais.
“You don’t see that anywhere else in the world.
You don’t have to be in the gas fields to see that.”
Blais said he has heard from people who are concerned about the environmental impacts of the industry.
“People who are worried are just people who live in rural areas.
They’re just not seeing the effects of the chemicals they are breathing.”
The gas industry employs more than 30,000 people across the country, with the biggest number in Alberta, according to the Association of Canadian Municipalities.
Alberta’s oil sands industry employs about 100,000 workers, with an average annual payroll of about $60,000, said Mike Hudema, president of the Alberta Energy Council.
He said the province has invested in the industry to mitigate the risks.
Hudema said the industry has to be regulated to ensure it is safe.
“It has to have stringent standards to ensure they are operating safely, to ensure that they’re operating with respect to the health and safety of people and animals,” he told the CBC.
“And then, when the need arises, they can take those steps, whether that’s an accident, a leak, a fire.”
He said there is still a lot to be done.
“They are in a very vulnerable position in terms of the impact that a gas spill would have,” he explained.
“So, there are some things we’re looking at.”
But Hudema acknowledged that it’s difficult to predict the impact of a gas leak.
“All you can do is monitor, and when you do that you can see that there are steps that have been taken and they’re taking those steps and it is happening,” he noted.