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Alberta oil well rupture caused by fracking?

I received an email yesterday from Ken Collier, a Council Red Deer chapter activist in Alberta, letting us know about a blown out well suspected to be associated with nearby fracking.

As reported by Postmedia today, “Provincial energy regulators are investigating the possibility that hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — on one well could have caused the rupture of an adjacent oil well after a spill was reported late Friday near the southern Alberta town of Innisfail. The Energy Resource Conservation Board said hydraulic fracturing on a well owned by Calgary-based Midway Energy could have affected a producing oil well owned by Wild Stream Exploration which was operating a few hundred metres away. …The regulator is currently reviewing hydraulic fracturing operations in the province.”

Interaction between wells is one of the serious consequences of fracking that the Council of Canadians has raised in our fracking campaign.

You can find out more about our campaign on our webpage.

In the coming weeks we will have a number of new resources available on our webpage including a community-based mapping of the fracking industry across Canada.

Here is what the Alberta Surface Rights Group has to say about the recent incident:

Hydro Frack Blows Out a Producing Oil Well at Innisfail Alberta

Hydro Frack, west of Innisfail , Alberta blows out an oil well ¾ of a mile away.

Hydro Frack Blows Out an Oil Well!

On January 13th, 2012 a producing oil well owned by Wildstream Exploration blew out southwest of Innisfail Alberta. Three quarters of a mile away Midway Energy was hydro fracking a horizontal well that from preliminary information looks like it ran horizontally very close to the oil well.

The farmer who first spotted the blow out reported there was a fountain of crude shooting about thirty feet above the pump jack. He phoned the ERCB emergency hot line but got no answer! He then quickly contacted Wildstream Exploration and went up to the Midway frack site and got the frack shut down. Unable to get any response from the ERCB, he then phoned Don Bester of the Alberta Surface Rights Group. Bester was able to contact the ERCB. Some of our board members went out there and did a field inspection (thus the pictures).

It appears the oil misted over a large portion of the surrounding land as the snow had a yellowish/brown tinge to it. Some oil misted into the tree line to the south of the well. Cats were piling the snow and it was being hauled away in gravel trucks.

A large pool of oil was being vacuumed up, with more being contained by a  berm at a lower level than can be seen in the picture.

It is not certain what actually happened and the ERCB, say they are investigating!  The ERCB gave a press release implying the spill is fracking fluid, no mention of crude oil…..which makes one wonder if they have even been out there?…….it is definitely crude …..we were there!

It is possible when they ramped up the pressure, the fracking fluids blasted through the rock  into the oil well zone, putting so much pressure on the oil pool that it blew the well out? It is important that the ERCB gets to the bottom of this accident. They have always told us this couldn’t possibly happen!

It appears they were wrong?

Maybe this “world class regulator” really  doesn’t know very much after all?

If the frack fluids can rupture into another zone bearing oil, why wouldn’t it do the same thing in an aquifier? With the new well spacing rules for hydro fracking (October, 2011) , these type of wrecks could become a regular occurence!

Is it time for some real regulations and a real regulator?

ASR