A Nexen shale gas site in northeastern B.C. We work with government, industry and communities to minimize the impact of our operations.

Environmental Stewardship

Technology has enabled the responsible development of shale gas; however, concerns regarding its impacts on the environment have been raised. We comply with all regulatory requirements; are actively collaborating with government, industry and community stakeholders; and are investing in research that's expected to further minimize impacts. Other actions include:

Manage impacts to water: Nexen is in compliance with rigorous protection measures for water sources such as lakes, rivers and aquifers. Our shale gas wells have steel casing and cement barriers in place to protect water sources. Comprehensive water monitoring is conducted and the data collected is shared with regulators.

Research: Nexen is advancing testing of new technology that could enable us to use saline water as an alternative to fresh water in our shale gas operations.

Community Matters

At Nexen, how we work is as important as the results we deliver. We’re committed to managing our relationships, and working with community members and other stakeholders in the areas where we operate. We build long-term relationships with stakeholders by sharing information about our operations and work collaboratively to understand their needs and expectations.

Our Approach to Engagement

Being a good neighbour starts with understanding the impact of our operations on local communities. This understanding is achieved through an ongoing engagement process that is maintained throughout the lifecycle of our operations. It includes:

  • Using various assessment tools to identify potential negative impacts and the steps we’ll take to mitigate them. These detailed assessments, which start before each project begins, include a comprehensive examination of environmental and community impacts.
  • Consulting with stakeholders before each new project and continuing the dialogue through the operational phase. We listen. We share information openly. We collaborate. We participate. And we recognize that some of the most important connections are made at the kitchen table as well as the boardroom table. We also give back through investments and sponsorships that advance education, arts and culture and community development.


Water monitoring near our Dilly Creek shale gas operations in northeastern BC.

Water Use

Nexen works to be in compliance with or exceed regulatory measures protecting water sources such as lakes, rivers and aquifers. This includes obtaining water withdrawal permits / licenses and reporting on water use. We also conduct comprehensive monitoring and share our data with regulators. Nexen is leading a more sustainable approach to sourcing water via continuous real time monitoring and varying our withdrawal amounts depending on water levels.

For each well we hydraulically fracture, we use approximately 42,000 cubic metres of fresh water. Nexen is advancing the testing of new technology, called Pressurized Fracturing On Demand, that could enable us to use saline water as an alternative to fresh water in our shale operations.

Protecting Water

Nexen works to ensure we look after water sources at each stage of our activity. Before we begin working on a site, we conduct a site assessment that accounts for any sensitive areas including surface water and location of underground aquifers, and make necessary modifications to ensure these areas we are mitigating potential negative impacts.



We construct our wells to ensure our hydraulic fracturing and production operations are isolated from groundwater and rock formations. Our shale gas wells have steel casing that is cemented in place and pressure tested to ensure that potable ground water is protected.

For our operations in northeast British Columbia, Nexen minimizes environmental risk of surface spills by injecting flowback water (water and sand that returns after fracturing) into deep disposal wells. These wells are between 600 and 800 metres deep within the Debolt formation. Disposal well activity is regulated by the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission according to the British Columbia Oil & Gas Activities Act. The fluid that is disposed must meet specific criteria and be injected into an isolated zone within the formation as determined by the Commission, including its composition and the pressure in which it can be injected.


Bears are often spotted along the roads near Nexen's Dilly Camp in northeastern BC.

Reducing Our Impact

Nexen works to minimize impacts on land and the environment before any work begins. For each of our shale sites, whether it be a well pad, facility or road, we:

  • Identify important environmental components through existing policy and communications with stakeholders
  • Understand issues in a regional context through extensive environmental monitoring programs and regional landscape-level assessments
  • Address issues at an operational level through site-specific planning to map out our assets, field site assessments to understand the soil, micro-habitats, wildlife and environmental aspects of the site, and develop plans to address any issues
  • Manage implementation to ensure commitments, mitigation efforts and regulatory requirements are maintained throughout the project
  • Work with other companies where possible to share access such as building roads or using existing roads and common utility corridors so that we disturb less land

We're required to restore the land so it's equal to its original state. Each of our sites include a detailed reclamation plan, which will be submitted to government for approval.

Working Together

Nexen works with industry peers, governments, institutions and other organizations to fund research that supports habitat management. We are also a founding member of the Horn River Basin Producers Group – an organization made up of oil and gas companies working to fund research and build common practices among industry.