RCMP investigate damage to pipeline in northwest Alberta
Damage is estimated at $500,000 to $700,000, police say
CBC News, January 16, 2017
Police say they are investigating significant damage to an oilfield pipeline under construction in the Hythe area in northwest Alberta.
Beaverlodge RCMP received a report on Sunday about mischief at a pipeline site north of Hythe, Alta.
Damage to the pipeline is estimated at $500,000 to $700,000, police say.
RCMP in Grande Prairie told CBC News that vandals used construction equipment at the site to dig up a portion of the pipeline, which will now have to be replaced.
The investigation continues.
The Alberta Energy Regulator said it was notified of the vandalism by the company, Paramount Resources.
The pipeline was still under construction, so there was no spill, said AER spokesman Ryan Bartlett.
Darrel Purdy, a spokesman for Paramount Resources, said no security personnel were on site at the time the damage was done.
Such measures wouldn’t be a common industry standard, he said.
Construction equipment on the site has now been secured, Purdy said, and a security detail is in place.
Transmission pipelines generally have 24-hour security on site, but that can be costly and labour intensive, said Patrick Smyth, vice-president of safety and engineering with the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. The organization represents companies that operate 119,000 kilometres of oil and gas transmission pipelines in Canada.
“You could have security personnel out there driving,” Smyth said. “But if there is an individual, or individuals, out there that want to cause harm, they can could get in there and they could perform nasty activities to the pipeline while security is at the other end.”
Smyth said in this case the pipeline was in a remote area, and few people would have even known it was there.
“I think the lesson out of this one is, there is no construction site that is off base for those who might want to cause harm to Canada’s critical energy infrastructure.
“Even though it seems out of sight, and out of mind, those who want to perform damage, they’re going to get in there. So it just means the onus is back on the company to ensure that they have a very comprehensive security plan in place.”
This is not the first time that oil company infrastructure in that part of Alberta has been targeted by vandals.
During the 1990s, a landowner in the area engaged in a lengthy battle with oil companies in the Hythe area.
Wiebo Ludwig was eventually convicted on five charges related to bombings and vandalism of oil and gas wells. He served 19 months in jail.
In January 2010, RCMP officers searched the Ludwig family’s 325-hectare farm, looking for evidence related to six Encana gas pipeline bombings in B.C. between October 2008 and July 2009.
Ludwig was arrested but released the next day, and was never charged. He died of cancer in 2012.
Hythe is about 60 km northwest of Grande Prairie.
Pipeline security expert warns of crime risk as new projects proceed
‘You’re going to have equipment spread all over the place that’s not being watched’
By Roberta Bell, CBC News, Jan 17, 2017
With major pipeline projects approved in Alberta, an expert in pipeline security predicts there could be a rise in costly vandalism to construction sites such as the damage discovered this week northwest of Grande Prairie.
RCMP are investigating after vandals used heavy construction equipment to rip up a portion of pipeline that Paramount Resources had recently installed near Hythe, 60 kilometres northwest of Grande Prairie.
The damage, estimated at between $500,000 and $700,000, was reported Sunday. The pipeline was still under construction so there was no spill.
A spokesman for Paramount Resources said no security personnel were on site at the time the damage was done.
Joden Dorner is the operations manager for Prospector Energy Service’s security division. His firm wasn’t working with Paramount Resources, but does work with companies that are building or planning to build pipelines.
“I think you’re going to see some really big major projects starting up and these guys are going to see that, too,” Dorner said Monday, referring generally to vandals and thieves.
“You’re going to have equipment spread all over the place that’s not being watched and it’s going to be easy pickings for these guys.”
CBC News interviewed Dorner in September of 2015 about the increase in crime in the oilsands following the layoff of tens of thousands of workers.
At that time, he said as a security expert, he’d never seen anything like the drastic increase in vandalism and theft that his employees were working to mitigate.
Dorner said people cut through fences and break into control rooms, destroying computers, and equipment facilities, lifting generators and stealing quads.
‘Those who want to perform damage, they’re going to get in there’
Now that two major pipeline projects have been given federal approval — the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion linking Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and the Enbridge Line 3 replacement between Hardisty and Gretna, Man.— Dorner isn’t expecting crime to drop off.
There will likely be more work in remote areas, which he said can be especially difficult to secure.
Patrick Smyth, vice-president of engineering and safety for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, which represents transmission pipeline companies, echoed that thought.
Smyth said people who want to wreak havoc generally succeed, regardless of how isolated a portion of a project might seem.
“There’s no construction site that is off base for those who might want to cause harm to Canada’s critical energy infrastructure,” Smyth said.
“Even though it might seem out of sight and out of mind, those who want to perform damage, they’re going to get in there.”
Kilometres-long stretches of pipeline can be even harder to monitor, Smyth said.
“You could have security personnel out there driving the right-of-way, but if there’s an individual or individuals out there who want to cause harm, they could perform nasty activities to the pipeline when the security personnel are at the other end.”
Dorner said his employees are told not to confront thieves or vandals.
“I mean, you never know what their intentions are,” he said. “It creates a situation that potentially could be dangerous.”
Some major companies already have or are starting to get their own security, he added.
“I think the eyes have been opened now and a lot of the companies are being proactive.”
He advised that security must remain a priority for pipeline builders.
“They’re still looking to the future with these big projects and not considering security as an option. I think they’re going to find that it’s something that needs to be in place.”