The author of a 2002 book about sabotage in the oil patch says two recent dynamite attacks on an EnCana pipeline in northeastern B.C. are not “ecoterrorism”.
Calgary journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil, told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview that he doesn’t know any environmentalists who are handy with dynamite.
“I also don’t know any who live near sour gas facilities,” Nikiforuk added. “I suspect this is the work of a very angry, conservative landowner who has either been mistreated by the regulator or mistreated by the company.”
Nikiforuk said there is a very serious problem with “fugitive emissions” of natural gas in the region, which has been the site of a proliferation of sour gas wells.
“Sour gas is one of the most dangerous, toxic substances known to man,” he said. “Having a sour gas well 800 metres from your home is like having a child molester an in urban community. You never know when things are going to go wrong.”
In 2004, Straight contributor Ben Parfitt wrote a feature piece, “Killing fields”, which focused on the dangers of sour gas leaks, highlighting how one of these accidents killed a 25-year-old man named Ryan Strand in 2001.
A followup story, “Gas leaks sour landowners”, focused on the concerns of local residents.
Nikiforuk said that anybody who wants to blow up a sour gas pipeline is behaving like a suicide bomber. “That’s how dangerous this stuff is,” he said.
He added, however, that it’s time to start asking questions of the regulator, the Oil and Gas Commission, about how well it’s doing tracking leaks and enforcing the statutes.
“The Peace River country is a colony of the oil and gas industry in Alberta,” Nikiforuk said. “The regulations are even lower than the ones in Alberta.”
He noted that EnCana is one of the most powerful corporations in North America, investing nearly a billion dollars a year into the B.C. economy.
“That’s why the RCMP is there,” Nikiforuk said. “The company makes a lot of money for the government of British Columbia. Farmers in the Peace River country, in contrast, do not.”
Straight contributor Mitch Anderson reported last June that the B.C. oil and gas sector flares off 960 million cubic metres of natural gas every year--the equivalent of enough heat for 300,000 Canadian homes annually.