Dec 14, 2011

Encana Responds to U.S. EPA's Pavillion, Wyo., Groundwater Report

Company calls agency’s findings invalid without third-party verification

Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of Encana Corp., has responded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft findings of its Pavillion, Wyo., groundwater investigation, claiming that the agency was too quick to release preliminary conclusions without first subjecting them to third-party scientific verification. According to Encana, EPA’s data from existing domestic water wells aligns with all previous testing done in the area by the corporation and shows no impacts from oil and gas development.

“These preliminary conclusions do not stand up to the rigor of a nonpartisan, scientific-based review, and that is of paramount importance to every natural gas producing community, every citizen and business that relies on natural gas and every industry worker,” said Eric Marsh, Encana executive vice president of natural gas economy and senior vice president of the USA division. “Safe and responsible natural gas development is vital to North America’s energy security, and hydraulic fracturing is an important, necessary and safe part of natural gas development.”

Among the list of discrepancies Encana says are in EPA’s approach, data and analysis are:

  • An ignorance of well-known historical realities with respect to the Pavillion field’s unique geology and hydrology;
  • Differences between the results of EPA’s two deep monitoring wells (depths ranging from 783 ft to 981 ft) in a natural gas reservoir, and the results of domestic water wells, which were typically less than 300 ft deep; and
  • An “unacceptable” inconsistency between EPA labs’ analysis for numerous organic compounds reportedly found in the deep monitoring wells.

Given the limited number of sampling events on the deep wells and the number of anomalies in the data, Encana is calling the EPA’s conclusions “irresponsible.” EPA is accused of repeatedly attempting to link limited instances of localized shallow groundwater contamination from historical production pit locations to its broader location; Encana had identified these pit locations earlier in 2005, entering them into a voluntary remediation program administered by the state of Wyoming.

"We have and continue to work extensively with Wyoming regulators and independent laboratories to determine whether natural gas development is affecting the community's water quality. To date, all studies found no connection. We care about the impacts of energy development on the environment and we are committed to working to ensure our operations do not impact groundwater," Marsh said.