To The Editor.
Kyle Forbes cited a gross exaggeration on my part for a point I made regarding the number of wells a grazing lease holder could possibly have. He said the number I stated would require an unrealistic area because he is saying that the ERCB regulations only allow one well per quarter of land. I am not sure where he got that information because it is definitely not true. He also used the example of the area around and west of Suffield to try to prove his point. One only has to drive the Trans Canada Highway from Medicine Hat to west of Brooks to see the number of wells that are there per quarter of land (1 half mile x 1 half mile). The fact is there are many more than one well per quarter. In reality numbers can be as high as 10 wells per quarter. There are “pads” with as many as four wells per pad – each well perhaps drilled to a different oil or gas formation. Each well, whether a single or in a pad, is subject to a fee of $2000 – $3000 paid to the grazing lease holder – per year. So the number I used of 450+ wells on a single grazing disposition is not an exaggeration.
MLA Drew Barnes comments about being taken out of context are also very interesting. One only has to access Hansard which is the official record of what is stated in the Legislature to see exactly what he said. This document is accessible online to the public. In early November, 2012, he stated in the Legislature that Alberta should look at the practices of Saskatchewan regarding leases and the sale of grazing leases. He failed to point out the additional regulations Saskatchewan has concerning grazing leases. As he should know, one point would not be looked at is isolation. Perhaps his statements open the door for a necessary total review. The remaining points in his response to my initial letter miss the point. He was talking about transparency – a point we all agree should be there for all transactions which involve the government. After all, we are talking about government lands – “public lands”. How many wells are on these grazing leases and how much is each grazing lease holder getting for these. As I said, all transactions regarding government property should be transparent. We are also talking about totals of over $250 million which is paid out every year to grazing lease holders for “inconvenience”. This money does NOT go to the owner of the property-the Government. Perhaps we should also know how many wells MLA Barnes has on his grazing lease – which I understand is to be some26 quarters of land.