FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The BC Oil and Gas Commission has released the results of a study looking at methane emissions from natural gas wells and is refuting a claim by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that an initial report on methane emissions was suppressed.

On Thursday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives issued a release saying that the BC OGC had suppressed a report from December 2013, which stated that up to 900 natural gas wells in Northeast B.C. could be leaking methane, which is the primary constituent of natural gas. The report, which was published by the Commission on November 20th, stated that OGC staff had discovered leaking gas at a total of 47 well sites in the Jean Marie formation near Fort Nelson.

CCPA resource policy analyst Ben Parfitt said that his organization is concerned that it took the OGC nearly four years to release the document, and claimed that the only reason the report was published by the Commission is that a copy was leaked. The leaked copy was obtained by Andrew Nikiforuk with The Tyee, who first published a story about the report on November 23rd. Parfitt said that the report underscored the need for a public inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in B.C.

In response to the CCPA’s release the OGC’s Director of Public and Corporate Relations Phil Rygg said that the report from 2013 was not “suppressed”, and that the Commission was “doing its due diligence to better understand the issue of gas migration, plan next steps for data gathering and potential mitigation efforts.” Rygg stated that the report was an internal document, and was not shared with politicians or the public while the Commission undertook a more comprehensive study of gas migration from wells, including purchasing new equipment to better detect gas migration and tightening regulations.

Rygg added that in its call for a public inquiry into hydraulic fracturing, the CCPA cited the preliminary data from four years ago, and said that gas migration was found at just 144 wells during a survey in June.

A copy of both the initial report and the Information Bulletin published by the Commission can be found below.