New interactive tool quantifies environmental impacts of shale gas and LNG development in northeast B.C.Impacts vary dramatically depending on scale of development and policy effectiveness; B.C.’s LNG ambitions under current policy will result in significant impacts

June 18, 2015

VANCOUVER — A new interactive planning tool is the first to quantify the potential impacts of shale gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in northeast B.C. in terms of carbon pollution, land disturbance, water use and wastewater.

Developed by the Pembina Institute with modelling support from Navius Research, the B.C. Shale Scenario Tool is publicly available and allows users to select specific LNG proposals (or a total level of LNG development), and specify how technologies and industry practices are used to limit the environmental impacts that result from fracking, transporting and processing shale gas.

For example, the following scenarios demonstrate how wide the range of impacts could be with three LNG terminals (with a capacity of 12 million tonnes per year each), operating under current or improved policy. In either case, impacts shown are based on 2030 projections, under the assumption that domestic gas use and net exports to Alberta and the U.S. remain constant.

  • Currentenvironmental technologies and practices: approximately 786 new gas wells, 27.5 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon pollution and 16.8 billion litres of freshwater used for fracking.
  • Significant improvements to environmental technologies and practices: approximately 737 wells drilled, 16.7 Mt of carbon pollution and 8.9 billion litres of freshwater used for fracking.

For comparison, if only one 12 Mt LNG terminal was developed and significant improvements were made to environmental technologies and practices for fracking, the impacts would be reduced, with approximately 450 new gas wells, 10.7 Mt of carbon pollution and 5.6 billion litres of freshwater used for fracking each year. B.C.’s 2020 and 2050 climate targets are 43 Mt and 13 Mt of carbon pollution per year, respectively.

The provincial government is responsible for the environmental policies that will help to determine the scenario that actually unfolds. Achieving significant improvements in environmental technologies and practices would require substantially stronger climate and water policies. Increasing the carbon tax and requiring the use of recycled water instead of freshwater for fracking are the types of policies that would be needed.

The tool can help in the development of provincial initiatives such as the Climate Leadership Plan and the Northeast Water Strategy. It can also help to inform local conversations about specific LNG proposals by articulating potential upstream impacts. The tool has been developed with input and review from the provincial government, First Nations, local governments, industry, academics and environmental groups. 


“The environmental impacts from LNG and shale gas development could vary dramatically depending on how many LNG proposals proceed and how effectively the province encourages or requires technologies that limit impacts. We’re excited that the shale gas scenario tool is available so that the risks — and the opportunities to reduce them — can be better understood.”

—   Matt Horne, B.C. Associate Director, Pembina Institute

“This tool is an incredibly important step for realizing and understanding the environmental impacts of LNG development across northern British Columbia. The tool will undoubtedly contribute to public conversations and policy dialogues on the importance of sustainable development for B.C.’s natural resources and communities.”

—   Chris Buse, Project Lead, Cumulative and Community Impacts
Research Consortium, University of Northern British Columbia

“B.C. has high-quality wind resources that can play an increasing role in meeting the province’s energy needs. The tool helps demonstrate the potential for wind and other renewable energy options to reduce the environmental impacts from shale gas development.”

—   Ian Baillie, British Columbia Regional Director,
Canadian Wind Energy Association 



The Real Estate Foundation of B.C., the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, the Bullitt Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation and the North Growth Foundation provided the funding for this project.

The B.C. Shale Scenario Tool — along with a video guide, infographic and technical and peer-review summary — is available at


Kevin Sauve
Communications Lead, Pembina Institute

Background: Detailed scenarios

LNG Development

Net gas export to Alberta / U.S. and domestic demand

Technologies and practices to reduce environmental impact

Impacts in 2030

Carbon Pollution

Freshwater use

New wells drilled

Carbon pollution (Mt CO2e)

Water Use (million m3)

3 LNG terminals (36
Mt of LNG per year in total)

Constant at 2014 levels

Current rates of carbon pollution.

Current rates of freshwater use for fracking


(30% more than 2011-2014 average)


(Equiv. to 5.8 million cars)


(Equiv. to the annual residential use of 183 thousand Canadians)

3 LNG terminals (36 MT of LNG per year in total)

Constant at 2014 levels

50% upstream electrification, 50% capture of formation CO2, 50% reduction in methane, and electrified LNG terminals

44% reduction in freshwater use from current rates


(22% more than 2011-2014 average)


(Equiv. to 3.5 million cars)


(Equiv. to the annual residential use of 97 thousand Canadians)

1 LNG terminal (12 MT of LNG per year)

Constant at 2014 levels

50% upstream electrification, 50% capture of formation CO2, 50% reduction in methane, and electrified LNG terminals

44% reduction in freshwater use from current rates


(25% less than 2011-2014 average)


(Equiv. to 2.3 million cars)


(Equiv. to the annual residential use of 61 thousand Canadians)

More information on the three scenarios is available in “Simple scenario analysis” tab of the scenario tool, available here:


Our perspectives to your inbox.

The Pembina Institute endeavors to maintain your privacy and protect the confidentiality of any personal information that you may give us. We do not sell, share, rent or otherwise disseminate personal information. Read our full privacy policy.