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Public Perception of Hydraulic Fracturing and the Oil and Gas Industry in Western Canada: What the Frack is Going On?

  • Author / Creator
    Phillips, Jordan
  • Hydraulic fracturing (HF), colloquially known as fracking, is an extremely divisive topic. One of its associated risks is the potential for induced seismicity (IS). Although HF has been around since the 1950s in Alberta, factors affecting public perception of the risks of IS are not fully understood. Public perception can influence social license to operate. Thus, understanding the factors that influence public perception can lead to smoother interactions between industry and the public and improve the reputation of industry. A better understanding may also ensure safe and economic energy production can continue. In the spring of 2019, we distributed a survey to the public to explore the opinions and perceptions of HF and the oil and gas industry in western Canada. This allows us to evaluate public preferences for, and acceptability of, HF operations and related public perceptions of risk using statistical analysis. While some outcomes are not surprising, such as the concept of NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”), many of the conclusions will be able to provide new insights to inform policy and best practice reviews within the industry and regulatory bodies. Support not only for oil and gas, but also for specific HF scenarios that include different levels of anticipated seismicity was explored, along with the influence of things like prior earthquake experience, energy industry work experience, and knowledge. The main concerns the public have in relation to the oil and gas industry are shown to be related to water quality, water usage, and surface spills. Overall, the results of this survey enables us to make policy recommendations, such as the creation of a resource that the public can use to access information about operations near them. These recommendations could bring local industry, integral to the Alberta economy, more in line with the perceptions and preferences of the Alberta public.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-1v91-p934
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.