Ewart: The top 10 energy stories of 2012

Ewart: The top 10 energy stories of 2012 by Stephen Ewart, December 29, 2012, Calgary Herald
4. Fracking up

As regulators develop new rules or update existing ones and industry groups shared best-practices, the fracking revolution is just beginning in Canada as some 5,000 wells have been fracked in Alberta since 2008. This new era gained attention in January with a well blowout near Innisfail that spewed 500 barrels of oil and water onto a field after “communication” from one well during a frack job to another well nearby. In December, the ERCB issued a report about a failed 2011 frack job near Grande Prairie that left diesel fuel in the water table.

9. Encana gets smaller still makes big news
Encana is hardly the self-styled global super independent of a decade ago but 2012 proved Canada’s largest gas producer can still generate news – for better or for worse. The Christmas Eve sale of En-cana’s 30 per cent stake in the Kitimat LNG plant to Chevron followed a $2.1 billion deal with PetroChina for a minority stake in its Duvernay play in Alberta, also in December, and a $2.9 billion deal with Mitsubishi for a minority share of its Cutbank Ridge play in northeast B.C. Encana is looking for partners on some U.S. gas properties as well. Mike Graham, president of the Canadian division, left the company in February but the biggest challenges in 2012 for Encana were in the U.S. as the Environmental Protection Agency continues to monitor a fracking incident in Wyoming. Meanwhile, U.S. authorities continue to investigate allegations Encana colluded with Chesapeake Energy to suppress land prices in Michigan in 2010. Encana’s in-house review concluded company executives did nothing wrong.

The changing face of Calgary’s oilpatch was most evident in the office tower landscape. Both Encana and Cenovus Energy moved into landmark The Bow tower after five years of construction just as Imperial Oil started to make plans for its new headquarters in suburban Quarry Park. With vacancy rates for the highest-end office space in the downtown at less than one per cent, Brookfield Properties said in December it intends to build a 56-storey tower on Sixth Avenue SW. If it proceeds as planned, The Bow’s reign as Calgary’s tallest building could be over by 2017. [Emphasis added]

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