At the same as a Magnitude 4.6 earthquake shook Central Alberta two weeks ago, Rimbey-area landowner Stan Pederson lost most of his electricity.
Somehow, the underground line was damaged and still needs to be repaired. A few days later, he noticed a long crack across the gravel road in front of his rural property about eight km southeast of Rimbey.
Pederson is skeptical. He suspects the quake is to blame and wonders if there is other undiscovered damage, such as cracked water wells, in central Alberta.
“It could be affecting other people. They just don’t know it now.”
Pederson reported his power line issue and the road damage to Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and to Vesta Energy, the Calgary-based company that was fracking in the Sylvan Lake area when the quake hit just before 6 a.m. on March 4. Vesta detected it and immediately notified the regulator and stopped fracking.
The AER later ordered Vesta to suspend fracking operations at its well site while an investigation is underway to see if the fracking and quake are linked. The company must also submit a report of all seismic activity in the area since April and specific fracturing data for the well site from Jan. 29 to Monday.
After being contacted by Pederson, Vesta sent an employee out to look at the road crack on Monday morning. The Vesta worker put the narrow fissure down to a frost heave.
That doesn’t wash with Pederson. He has lived on the property since 2005 and hasn’t seen a road-spanning crack like that before.
He is hardly anti-oil and gas. He has made his living in the oilpatch, doing just about every job over the decades.
“I’m an oil guy. Fracking is good. But there’s no responsibility by the oil companies.”
Pederson is getting power from a jury-rigged above-ground line for now that a friend who has an electrical business was able to get in place the evening of the earthquake. A permanent fix to the underground line will cost $2,500 — a bill Pederson does not believe he should have to pay.
There is no proof that the quake caused any of the damage he’s seen. But considering he knows of people who felt the quake as far as Parkland Beach and Birch Bay, more than 50 km from the quake’s origin, he is not ruling out that it was capable of doing more damage than initially thought.
Asked to comment, a Vesta spokesman said the company is not commenting on discussions with individual landowners.
“Those will remain private. The company is committed to safety and being a good neighbour.”
AER was looking into Pederson’s concerns on Monday but was not able to reply by deadline.