The two blocks of drilling rights in the Crowsnest Coalfield which have been the subject of so much concern by British Columbians and Montanians attracted no bids in the auction which closed on August 25. No companies chose to bid for the two parcels – 55740 and 55741 – according to the results posted on the Ministry of Energy and Mines website.
This is a resounding victory for the tireless campaigners in Fernie, Whitefish and Helena, including the Governor of Montana. Congratulations to them all.
But it also speaks to what is probably an unpromising coalbed methane opportunity anyway. EnCana has been drilling north of the posted blocks, Shell has recently announced agreements that will see them exploring in the same area, and Chevron has drilled some test wells. When profitable opportunities exist, these companies are not shy about controversy. They chose not to bid.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines now has to justify a prolonged promotional effort that has resulted in nothing but a great expense to the people of BC, a tarnished reputation in our neighbouring states, and anger and mistrust that will endure in the communities of south-east BC.
Endnote: the Ministry normally posts auction results to their website without fanfare. On the morning of August 26, however, the posting sequence went like this:
- the results were posted showing NO BIDS for the Crowsnest parcels 55740 and 55741.
- the results disappeared
- the results reappeared, again showing NO BIDS