Posted on January 28, 2011 (updated: January 28, 2011)

PRTC report points fingers, doesn’t answer questions

CALGARY — A Petroleum Technology Research Centre report released last week, which attempts to rule out the possibility of a CO2 leak near Weyburn, Sask., omits critical information and fails to provide concrete answers, Ecojustice said today after a thorough review of the document.

On January 19, the PTRC released a response decrying the soil-gas study Petro-Find GeoChem Ltd. conducted last summer for Cameron and Jane Kerr. The couple had concerns that CO2 injections near their property might be responsible for disturbances on their property, including bubbling and foaming water, unusual algae growths in ponds and animal carcasses found strewn around the ponds.

The Petro-Find study found high CO2 levels on the Kerrs’ property and stated that the Cenovus injection site was the likely source. The PTRC’s report challenged these findings and argues that the detected CO2 could be from natural sources in the soil.

“The PTRC response is incomplete and ignores important factors such as the presence of abandoned oil wells, the presence of faults and fractures and the high pressures under which CO2 is injected,” said Ecojustice staff lawyer Barry Robinson, who is working with the Kerrs.

Ecojustice’s analysis of the gaps in the PTRC response is attached below.

“Anyone familiar with Calmar, Alberta knows that abandoned wells are not always properly sealed,” said Robinson. “The PTRC has not conducted any field investigations of the integrity of abandoned wells in the Weyburn area.”

In 2007, an abandoned Imperial Oil gas well near Calmar was found to be leaking natural gas to the surface in a residential neighbourhood.

Robinson said the lack of definitive answers for the cause of the dead animals and bubbling waters on the Kerr property indicates the need for a thorough investigation that, so far, Cenovus and the Saskatchewan government have refused to carry out.

“Something is going on, and what we need is to get to the bottom of it. We need a full public investigation to put this issue to rest and give us some answers as to whether there is reason to be worried about carbon capture and storage projects.”


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