Big Hopes for British Columbia's Shale Reserves

Hoping to follow in Alberta's steps with its oil sands boom, British Columbia is hoping a new generation of technology and economics will allow the province to cash in on its shale natural gas fields.

Shale gas, unlike natural gas, is bonded to the rock and must be peeled away from the shale before it can be extracted and used. As of yet, nobody is sure how to extract the gas molecules and turn them into profit.

Business interests appear to be preparing for that time.

Last week, British Columbia announced it had its most successful auction of oil and natural gas exploration rights in almost three decades. The auction brought $401 million, pushing the province's year-end total past $1 billion.

Two-thirds of the sales came from four parcels near Dawson Creek known to contain large shale formations that could contain natural gas (Patrick Brethour, Toronto Globe and Mail, Dec. 14).

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