Encana gets exclusive access to treated sewer water for fracking operations

Encana Corp. has been given exclusive access to treated sewage water from the city of Dawson Creek for a fracking operation early next year.

On Monday, city council approved a request from the oil and gas company to allow exclusive access to water from the city’s reclaimed water facility between Jan. 22 and Feb. 29.

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During that time, Encana will be hydraulically fracturing at a well site six miles south of Dawson Creek, and needs up to 4,000 cubic metres of water a day from the city—the maximum the reclaimed water facility is able to produce. Encana spokesperson Brian Lieverse said the company will be drilling four wells and could use up to 7,000 cubic metres daily.

For comparison, a standard Olympic-sized swimming pool contains 2,500 cubic metres of water.

A slowdown in the oilpatch has led to lower demand for the water, which is treated from the city’s sewage lagoons. That makes it feasible to offer all the water to one producer, city staff say.

In a letter to council, Encana wrote that the reclaimed water is “integral” to its operations south of Dawson Creek. It says four Dawson Creek companies have bid on a water hauling contract.

Mayor Dale Bumstead supported the idea, saying “it’s why we sell water, and the more we sell, the better it is from a whole bunch of perspectives.”

Shell, which built the facility, is guaranteed up to 3,400 cubic metres a day.

Shell OK’d Encana’s request in principle, saying it doesn’t need the water for its own fracking

The idea for the facility came about in 2007, according to Kevin Henderson, the city’s director of development services.

“We saw an escalation in water use by industry and started to look for alternatives (to fresh water) and how we were going to manage it in the future,” he said. “The idea popped up whether we could just use water out of the lagoons.”

The idea was deemed feasible, and the city asked local oil and gas companies if they would be interested in building a facility in exchange for guaranteed access to treated water.

Shell ultimately won a request for proposals to build the facility.

The water is valued at around $250,000, or $10,000 a day if Encana takes the maximum amount allowed. The city sells the water at $2.50 a cubic metre.


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