Angle Energy moves to quell fracking fears
With a goal to counter increasing media attention on the potential dangers of horizontal fracking, Calgary-based Angle Energy Inc. resumed its own aggressive public relations campaign last week with an open house and dinner for dozens of county residents and stakeholders.
“We take the concerns very seriously. Certainly there has been some very high profile stories in the news,” said Heather Christie-Burns, Angle Energy’s president and chief operating officer who attended the June 5 open house at the Didsbury Agricultural Society Grounds.
“We are hoping for questions. Our goal is to understand whatever everyone is wondering, what they are thinking. The press is certainly a big driver of information that causes concerns and questions.”
Angle Energy, a publicly traded company whose operations are solely in Alberta, has been conducting horizontal fracking operations west and north of Didsbury in what is known as the Harmattan field since 2005. There are currently up to 70 well sites in this area and about 130 kilometres of pipeline.
Company representatives made a fracking presentation to Didsbury town council in April. Last week it was time to reach out to residents and stakeholders, many of them currently leasing out sites to Angle for horizontal fracking operations, which generate the same amount of production as eight old-style vertical sites while leaving less of a surface foot print.
And while the open house and dinner attracted up to 75 area residents the mood was more upbeat than one of concern over fracking, a controversial hydraulic process that blasts open tight oil, gas and coal formations with high pressurized amounts of water, sand and chemical to release methane or light oil.
“There are no fears. It is safe. When there are that many miles down it is not hurting us,” said county resident Margaret Hosegood, who recently had four wells drilled on her property and attended the open house last week. “They can come and punch all the wells they want to on there and frack them.”
The issue came to full public attention last January when an oil well blowout from a hydraulic fracking operation on a farmer’s field west of Innisfail resulted in the messy release of fracturing fluid and some crude oil. Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) was forced to launch an investigation.
“Fracking isn’t new. It has just hit the media more. We are trying to explain ourselves on how we are protecting ground water and what procedures we follow to make sure we follow regulations,” said Graham Cormack, Angle’s vice president of operations, who was at last week’s open house. “Because always, the fear is the unknown. That is human nature – fear of the unknown. When people think of fracturing, they don’t know about it. They have fear about it. We want people to know what fracturing is all about.”
Cormack said his company follows every industry and government regulation. He added there are multiple layers of pipe and concrete in the ground that are tested prior to fracturing, as well as pressurized surface equipment that is also meticulously monitored and tested.