Investigators believe the partial destruction of a metering shed at a wellhead site near the community of Tomslake, BC, was caused by a deliberate explosion and is the latest in a recent series of minor explosions in the area directed at Encana Corp. gas facilities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said last week.

Investigators from the RCMP's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, the Explosives Disposal Unit and Forensic Identification are investigating the latest incident, which was discovered Jan. 4. There were no injuries or gas leakage, the RCMP said.

"It appears that a high explosive was used and it caused a very significant amount of damage to this small steel shed," the RCMP said. The investigation "is considered to be a priority" and, because the site of the last explosion was less than 275 yards from the nearest house, "we are considering these explosions are becoming increasingly violent," the RCMP said.

Last month the RCMP said EnCana, which endured minor explosions along its natural gas pipeline in the Tomslake area three times in October, was probably targeted by a local person with a grievance against the company (see NGI, Dec. 8, 2008).

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 drugstore in nearby Dawson Creek, BC, to the company and two local newspapers. The letters, 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 (31 miles) east of Dawson Creek (see NGI, Oct. 20, 2008). 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, 2008).

Last month RCMP investigators said "mischief" at several well sites in a rural area near Fort St. John, BC -- including valves being tampered with and shots fired at structures -- did not appear to be related to the EnCana pipeline explosions (see NGI, Dec. 22, 2008). Those incidents occurred at well sites operated by Iteration Energy and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. An investigation there is being conducted by the Serious Crime Unit of the Fort St. John RCMP Detachment.

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