Sour gas anger may be root of pipe attacks

Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:14pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The saboteur who attacked two pipelines in northeastern British Columbia in the past week is likely somebody who has been hurt by sour gas development, according to an author who has studied past attacks on Canada's energy infrastructure.

Police asked the public for help on Friday in their probe of the blasts, which have not caused any injuries but rattled nerves in the area around the town of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, a hotbed of energy development.

Police believe the pipeline bombings are linked, and likely connected to a letter sent to media last week warning the "terrorist" energy industry to stop the "crazy expansion of deadly gas wells in our home lands."

"I wouldn't describe it as eco-terrorism. I don't know many environmentalists who are handy with dynamite. It's more likely this is a local landowner ... somebody who has been harmed," said Calgary-based author Andrew Nikiforuk.

The attacker could also be from the area's aboriginal community, which has sparred with the industry over drilling for sour gas, natural gas that contains high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide.

Nikiforuk wrote a book about Wiebo Ludwig, a rural commune leader in Alberta convicted of bombing gas wells and other vandalism in the 1990s to protest sour gas drilling.

The attacked lines carried gas to an EnCana Corp, facility that removes the hydrogen sulfide so the gas can be sold to consumers. The letter called for the facility to be closed.

The recent attacks were likely done by somebody who knows enough about explosives to damage but not destroy the lines, which would have created a fireball and released a deadly cloud of gas that would have spread quickly, Nikiforuk said.   Continued...

<p>Damage caused to a natural gas pipeline is seen east of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, in this October 12, 2008 handout released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). REUTERS/RCMP/Handout</p>