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Investigators: EnCana Was Target of Dawson Creek Pipeline Bombings

EnCana Corp., which endured minor explosions along its natural gas pipeline near Dawson Creek, BC, three times in October, was probably targeted by a local person with a grievance against the company, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigators.

"So far, there has been excellent cooperation from the community regarding this investigation," RCMP Sgt. Tim Shields said during a press conference last Wednesday. "However, there have been some individuals who have been less than forthcoming and somewhat uncooperative. To these people, we urge you to contact the investigators and tell us what you know."

On Oct. 7, five days prior to the first of the three explosions, handwritten letters demanding that EnCana cease its operations were mailed from a Dawson Creek drug store to the company and two local newspapers. The letter, addressed to "EnCana and all other oil and gas interests in the Tom's Lake Area," made no specific threats, but warned that "We will not negotiate with terrorists which you are as you keep on endangering our families with crazy expansion of deadly gas wells in our home lands."

The first of the explosions occurred Oct. 12 about 50 kilometers east of Dawson Creek (see NGI, Oct. 20). At the time the RCMP said an "explosive device" had been detonated, which damaged but did not rupture the 12-inch diameter steel gas line. A second explosion was discovered Oct. 16 and a third on Oct. 31 (see NGI, Nov. 10).

Investigators last week released photographs taken from a security videotape of eight people who mailed letters Oct. 11 and asked the public to come forward with information. Investigators have also set up a website, www.dawsoncreekbombings.com, which contains the photographs and other information about the bombings.

"We want to reach the people who know or have suspicions about the bomber," Shields said. "Experience in these matters has shown that when the person is apprehended there will be a group of family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances who either knew directly or had made numerous observations that, if reported, would have helped stop the bomber...They will have talked about those grievances to someone, possibly advocating or threatening violent action. This person will have knowledge of and possibly access to explosives."

At the same press conference, EnCana Vice President Mike McAllister appealed directly to the person or persons who carried out the bombings, urging them to contact EnCana.

"Your actions have imperiled your fellow citizens, EnCana employees and emergency response personnel," McAllister said. "We do not believe you intend the loss of life, but you must understand that a continuation of the bombings dramatically raises the danger of that occurring."

The EnCana pipeline carries sour gas to the company's Steep Rock gas plant, which began operation in 2006 and is the largest gas processing plant to be built in British Columbia in the past decade. About 30% of Alberta gas reserves and production is sour, including many of the biggest and best remaining untapped deposits along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Production of sour gas, which contains lethal hydrogen sulfide, has been opposed by environmentalists and landowners in the region. Opponents of sour gas production -- organized as CEASE, the Committee to Encourage and Advocate a Safe Environment -- recently converged on Tomahawk, a hamlet about 100 miles southwest of the Alberta capital of Edmonton, for a vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful crusade to ax sour gas deposits from the industry's development repertoire (see NGI, Oct. 6).

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