DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — An ominous handwritten letter sent to a local newspaper is warning EnCana (TSX:ECA) that if it doesn’t shut down its operations in northeastern British Columbia, the bombings that have damaged the company’s pipelines and wellheads since last October will only get worse.
The two-page letter, which was sent to the Dawson Creek Daily News and released by the RCMP on Thursday, promises there will be no attacks until that deadline runs out.
“You have three months to convince the residents here and the general public that you will commit to this program, meaning that all action against you will cease for three months from the time of this note,” says the letter.
“We can all have a summer vacation including your security personnel and the RCMP, who have not helped you to date anyway.”
The note calls the first six explosions, which began last October and included two this month, as “minor” and “fully controlled.”
It says the attacks are meant to send a message aimed directly at EnCana.
“To let you know that you are indeed vulnerable, can be rendered helpless despite your megafunds, your political influence, craftiness and deceit in which you trusted,” it says.
Another letter surfaced last October just before the first set of three explosions. That note called EnCana and other oil and gas companies “terrorists” and demanded they shut down immediately.
EnCana spokesman Alan Boras said the company isn’t going anywhere, but he said the latest letter is troubling.
“These are criminal acts that are endangering the lives of the people who work for our company and contractors who work for us and people who live in the community where we operate,” he said.
“These bombs are not only an attack on our workers but they are an attack on the communities and the people who live there and make their living there.”
The latest letter doesn’t specify the exact area EnCana must leave, but does mention the company’s “fancy gas plant” at nearby Kelly Lake.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Tim Shields said the letter has increased anxiety among the townspeople, who just want the bomber caught.
“This letter would be considered by many within the community to be a form of blackmail, and it has definitely ratcheted up the level of fear within the community,” he said.
Shields said police believe the person responsible is a local resident who knows the back roads very well and would have been missing from home in the early-morning hours of July 1 and July 4 when the last two explosions occurred.
Mounties have tried to speak to a “handful” of residents who have surfaced as “people of interest,” but they have not co-operated with police, Shields said.
The RCMP’s anti-terrorism unit has been investigating the bombings, but so far no one has been charged.
The letter appears to reference recent complaints by locals of heavy-handed tactics by RCMP investigators. At least two residents have hired a lawyer with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, demanding police stop what they call harassment and intimidation.
The note demands police allow residents to talk about their concerns with oil and gas development “unmolested by any further interrogations and/or investigations so that they can speak their minds without reprisal.”
The letter ends: “Don’t delay!!”
– By James Keller and Camille Bains in Vancouver