DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — Calgary-based EnCana (TSX:ECA), one of the major players in northern British Columbia’s rapidly expanding oil and gas industry, has been targeted by a bombing for the fifth time in the past nine months, the RCMP confirmed Thursday.
The Mounties said a gas leak discovered on Canada Day at a sweet gas well south of Dawson Creek, not far from the B.C.-Alberta boundary, was caused by an explosion.
And while investigators hadn’t yet started an extensive forensic investigation of the scene, the force had already linked the attack to four others last October and January.
“Preliminary examinations of the natural gas leak at one of the EnCana natural gas pipeline sites at Pouce Coupe, B.C., confirm that the rupture was caused by an explosion,” the RCMP said in a release.
“This blast is considered the fifth in a series of criminally motivated acts that have occurred at EnCana sites.”
The leak was discovered by an EnCana employee on Wednesday morning at the sweet gas well near the village of Pouce Coupe.
The worker was conducting a routine check when he noticed the damage to the wellhead, as well as a drop in pressure.
Investigators with the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team were waiting for EnCana to seal off the leak before moving in to gather evidence, although the company wasn’t sure how long that might take.
Spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari said crews would try a series of different methods to contain the leak, which she said is about three kilometres away from the nearest resident and doesn’t pose a risk to the public.
Last October, a hand-written letter was sent to local media in Dawson Creek and to EnCana, calling oil and gas companies, and EnCana in particular, “terrorists” and demanding the company stop natural gas operations in northeastern B.C.
There were three explosions that month at EnCana pipelines or wellheads carrying sour gas, which contains toxic hydrogen sulphide. Two of those bombings caused leaks.
Then, in January, an explosion destroyed a metering shed at a wellhead near the nearby community of Tomslake.