Energy regulator reports natural gas well blowout in northern Alberta by Edmonton Journal, September 21, 2015
The Alberta Energy Regulator was investigating a blowout Monday that happened at an Encana natural gas well in northern Alberta.
Spokesman Peter Murchland said the blowout was reported at about 2 p.m. at a well site about 18 kilometres west of Fox Creek.
“There is no indication at this point any impact to public safety,” Murchland said on Monday night.
The blowout involved uncontrolled sour natural gas and condensate.
A summary of the incident on the AER’s “compliance dashboard” says personnel have been evacuated from the well site, and roadblocks and portable air monitoring units have been set up in the area.
Murchland said an inspector was en route to the well site, and will work with Encana to determine what happened.
“Obviously a huge impact to Encana, but to our understanding, no impact to the public, to wildlife or waterways in this area,” he said. [Ignorant regulator statement of the century?]
Encana spokesman Jay Averill said the company immediately enacted its emergency response plan.
He said as a safety precaution the company “engaged directly with stakeholders in the area including the Town of Fox Creek.”
Averill said all personnel at the well site are safe and accounted for.
“We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our personnel, first responders and the public,” he said.
“We are currently monitoring air quality with portable equipment and are bringing in additional air monitoring equipment. Our priority is bringing the well under control.”
Murchland said there is no predictable timeline for that to happen.
“Every case is different, depending on the location and the nature of the infrastructure. In this case, it’s difficult to say; it’s too early to say.”
The AER Responding to a Natural Gas Well Blowout near Fox Creek Press Release by AER, September 21, 2015
The Alberta Energy Regulator is responding to a natural gas well blowout approximately 18 km west of Fox Creek.
On September 21, 2015, Encana notified the AER of a natural gas well blowout flowing natural gas and condensate. The well is licenced for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and portable air monitoring units and roadblocks have been set up at each side of the site as well as the access road.
There are no reported impacts to the public, waterways, or wildlife at this time. [With Ex-Encana VP Gerard Protti Chair of the regulator, will he ensure lies and cover-up to protect Encana? ]
AER staff and air monitoring units have been dispatched to site to assess the situation and work with the company to ensure all safety and environmental requirements are met during the response to the incident.
Information about the incident will be posted to the AER’s compliance dashboard.
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[Refer also to:
… FAR FROM BEING the exclusive worry of “fanatics” like Alberta farmer and convicted gas-well saboteur Wiebo Ludwig, sour-gas leaks are a growing concern to residents in northeastern B.C., where young people like Strand are put in harm’s way every day. At a minimum, more than a dozen potentially lethal leaks occur every year. Although reliable statistics on workers “knocked down” by sour gas are unavailable, interviews with long-time energy workers suggest they are far more common than the industry and provincial governments like to admit. …
2015 07 25: Fox Creek Mayor Jim Ahn rightfully worried about frac quakes harming sour gas infrastructure in the community. How much damage have the quakes already caused sour gas wellbores and pipelines?
2015 08 27: Fracking-induced earthquakes could leave workers vulnerable, says geophysicist, Seismic scientist David Eaton says Canada’s fracking-induced quakes are the biggest in the world
2015: Public Herald 30-Month Report Finds DEP Fracking Complaint Investigations Are “Cooked” & Shredded
During the 2011 Atgas blowout investigation in Bradford County, Chesapeake Energy was allowed to dismiss their own pre-drill water test results to avoid liability for contaminating a water supply. This simple act by DEP essentially changed the background water quality data for the area, creating an artificial history of drinking water quality.
2015 05 22: Encana well blowout after fracking leaves oily mess of spewing natural gas, propane, butane, benzene and toluene, forces 2 dozen families from their homes in Karnes County, Evacuees anxious to see the damage to their homes
2014: B.C. horse breeder recounts fracking sour gas leak scare caused by Encana
2012: $250,000 in community safety projects following Encana deadly sour gas leak
2011 Worker killed in Alberta sour gas leak
Deadly sour gas has killed the second worker in three years near the small Alberta community of Fox Creek.
RCMP were called Saturday evening after the gas, which contains hydrogen sulfide, leaked while three people were doing maintenance on a natural gas line. Two of the workers were exposed; a third was farther away.
Police donned breathing packs to help the first two workers, but one of them died at the scene. The other was taken to hospital. An RCMP member operating a roadblock was also taken to hospital after being exposed to the gas.
Police are not releasing names of those involved, and did not immediately provide details on corporate ownership of the gas line. But the incident carries unsettling echoes of an incident in the region just three years ago that also killed a natural gas worker.
A British Columbia man, Hans Olson, died in March 2008. He was conducting gas well maintenance at the time near Fox Creek, which is located 260 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
Last March, Mr. Olson’s employer, ELH Enterprises, was charged with seven counts of violating Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Among those charges was an allegation that Mr. Olson was not properly trained.
The hydrogen sulfide that makes gas “sour” gives off a powerful rotten-egg smell, and is deadly at concentrations ranging from 250 to 1,000 parts per million. At higher concentrations, it can kill in seconds.
Industry processes sour gas to remove the hydrogen sulfide, but production of the potentially deadly substance has long been controversial in Alberta. Residents near sour gas wells have blamed it for a wide range of health effects that include birth defects, animal deaths and cancers.
In B.C., the Workers Compensation Board has said about four or five “knockdowns” occur every year among workers that inhale non-fatal amounts of hydrogen sulphide. B.C. Premier Christy Clark has promised to look into health and safety concerns related to sour gas, although roughly 85 per cent of Canada’s production of the substance occurs in Alberta.
According to the Alberta Energy Research Conservation Board, Alberta has about 6,000 sour gas wells that feed 240 processing plants and 12,500 kilometres of sour gas pipeline.
According to research conducted by the University of Calgary, processing of the gas leaks some 55 tonnes of “residual” sulfur into the Alberta atmosphere every day, enough that it is a suspected cause of localized acid rain.
2010: EnCana Corporation facing criminal charges for deadly sour gas release related to frac sand
2008 03 09: Sour gas leak kills worker near Fox Creek
The death of an oilfield worker from exposure to sour gas near Fox Creek has triggered an investigation by police, safety and industry regulatory officials.
Hans Andrew Olson, a 46-year-old employee of ELH Enterprises in Whitecourt, was working on contract for Calgary-based oil and gas company Orleans Energy when he died on the job Friday afternoon.
Colin MacPhail, speaking for Alberta’s workplace health and safety program, said the longtime oilpatch worker was working alone, changing a gas-flow measuring device inside Orleans’ Kaybob inlet separator gas facility. The facility is in a remote, wooded area 45 kilometres west of Fox Creek in northwestern Alberta.
There were high levels of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) present, said RCMP Fox Creek division Const. Dean Purcka.
Orleans Energy president and CEO Barry Olson said in a statement that Hans Olson, who is not related, was “performing routine operations within the facility.”
When the man failed to check in at 5 p.m., another field operator was sent to check on him, said MacPhail, who is with Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry. Upon arrival, the operator found that the hydrogen sulphide alarm system had been set off.
Olson was pronounced dead at the scene. … Hydrogen sulphide is found in natural gas and sour crude oil. At low concentrations, it smells like rotten egg and can cause nausea, headaches and eye and lung irritation [and permanently damages the brain].
Higher concentrations deaden a person’s sense of smell, making the H2S harder to detect.
Health effects become more severe as concentration and exposure time increase, leading eventually to death. Exposed to H2S concentrations of 750 parts per million, a person can succumb in minutes.
Under law, workers entering areas where H2S is a hazard must wear respiratory protective equipment. … [Emphasis added]