Encana refutes U.S. EPA Pavillion groundwater report
by Encana News Release
December 14, 2011
(DENVER) Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of Encana Corporation, strongly disagrees with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) preliminary conclusions in its draft report related to the groundwater study in the Pavillion natural gas field of Wyoming. The EPA's data from existing domestic water wells aligns with all previous testing done by Encana in the area and shows no impacts from oil and gas development. Of most concern, many of the EPA's findings from its recent deep monitoring wells, including those related to any potential connection between hydraulic fracturing and Pavillion groundwater quality, are conjecture, not factual and only serve to trigger undue alarm.
Encana is especially disappointed that the EPA released its draft report, outlining preliminary findings, before subjecting it to qualified, third-party, scientific verification. This precipitous action runs counter to the cooperative approach that Encana and other state, federal and local participants in the Pavillion Working Group took in working alongside the EPA in its investigation for more than three years.
"These preliminary conclusions do not stand up to the rigor of a non-partisan, 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's Executive Vice-President, Natural Gas Economy & Senior Vice-President, 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."
Numerous discrepancies exist in the EPA's approach, data and analysis. A few of these discrepancies are:
•The EPA report ignores well-known historical realities with respect to the Pavillion field's unique geology and hydrology. (See BACKGROUNDER below)
•The EPA drilled two deep monitoring wells (depth range: 783 — 981 feet) into a natural gas reservoir and found components of natural gas, which is an entirely expected result. The results in the EPA deep wells are radically different than those in the domestic water wells (typically less than 300 feet deep), thereby showing no connection. Natural gas developers didn't put the natural gas at the bottom of the EPA's deep monitoring wells, nature did.
•There is unacceptable inconsistency between EPA labs' analysis for numerous organic compounds reported to have been found in the EPA deep monitoring wells. Data is not repeatable and the sample sets used to develop these preliminary opinions are inadequate.
•Several of the man-made chemicals detected in the EPA deep wells have never been detected in any of the other wells sampled. They were, however, detected in many of the quality control (blank) samples — which are ultra purified water samples commonly used in testing to ensure no contamination from field sampling procedures. These two observations suggest a more likely connection to what it found is due to the problems associated with EPA methodology in the drilling and sampling of these two wells.
•The EPA's reported results of all four phases of its domestic water well tests do not exceed federal or state drinking water quality standards for any constituent related to oil and gas development.
Conclusions drawn by the EPA are irresponsible given the limited number of sampling events on the EPA deep wells and the number of anomalies seen in the data. At the same time, the EPA repeatedly attempts to link limited instances of localized shallow groundwater contamination from historical production pit locations to its broader investigation. In 2005, Encana identified and self-reported these pit locations and entered them into a voluntary remediation program administered by the State of Wyoming.
Given the numerous flaws contained in this report, Encana believes genuine, qualified third-party review is essential. Unfortunately, Encana does not believe that the EPA has subjected any of its data to a qualified, truly independent third party for peer review. We urge EPA and other government officials to ensure that such an independent review is made.
Encana employs a collaborative stakeholder engagement practice to address stakeholder concerns, including hydraulic fracturing. Since some of the residents of Pavillion first expressed concerns about potential impacts from natural gas development on their drinking water, Encana has taken their concerns very seriously.
"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.
For more information:
Encana refutes U.S. EPA Pavillion groundwater report - Full Encana News Release 12/12/2011
EPA Releases Draft Findings of Pavillion, Wyoming Ground Water Investigation for Public Comment and Independent Scientific Review - Full EPA Draft Report 12/08/12