News Release
Joint Panel Issues Report Following Environmental Review of Proposed EnCana Shallow Gas Infill Development Project

OTTAWA and CALGARY - January 27, 2009- The Joint Panel reviewing the proposed EnCana Shallow Gas Infill Development project and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Application No. 1435831 to drill three wells in the Canadian Forces Base Suffield National Wildlife Area in Alberta, announced today that it is submitting its report and recommendations to the federal Minister of the Environment.

The Joint Review Panel is an independent body, mandated by the federal Minister of the Environment and the former Alberta Energy and Utilities Board to assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and to make a decision on the Application filed by EnCana for three wells within the National Wildlife Area.

The Panel has concluded that certain key requirements must be met before the proposed project or a variation of it could proceed. Failure to address these requirements would likely result in significant adverse effects on certain species at risk and consequently interfere with the conservation of wildlife. In particular, the Panel recommends that the identification of critical habitat for five species listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act be finalized. The Panel also recommends that once this critical habitat is finalized, the proposed project facilities should not be located in the defined critical habitat for these five species, unless otherwise permitted under the Species at Risk Act.

The Panel also concluded that the Suffield Environmental Advisory Committee, established under the 1975 Agreement allowing gas production in the present-day National Wildlife Area, is not able to oversee a development of this magnitude at present. Its role must be clarified and it must be resourced adequately by the governments of Canada and Alberta to be able to ensure proper regulatory oversight of the proposed project.

Regarding the three-well application by EnCana, the Panel finds that the application lacks complete and up-to-date environmental information for the proposed drilling sites. Given this shortcoming, the Panel finds that it is unable to fully assess the potential environmental impacts of the three proposed wells, as required by Section 3 of the Energy Resources Conservation Act. The Panel therefore denies the application.

The report follows a public hearing held from October 6 to October 31, 2008 that took place in Calgary and Medicine Hat, Alberta. During the proceedings the Panel received submissions and heard presentations from the proponent, federal and provincial government agencies, environmental groups, individuals and organizations interested in the project.

The report, which includes an executive summary, can be found on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Web site at registry # 05-05-15620, the Energy Resources Conservation Board Web site at or the Panel Web site at

EnCana Corporation proposes to drill, over a three-year period, up to 1275 new shallow gas wells within the boundary of the Canadian Forces Base Suffield National Wildlife Area, located in Southeastern Alberta, approximately 50 km Northwest of Medicine Hat and 250 km Southeast of Calgary. The project is in addition to the existing natural gas development activities within the National Wildlife Area and includes the physical works and the activities associated with the construction, operation, decommissioning, abandonment and reclamation of the shallow gas wells, pipelines, and supporting infrastructure.

EnCana Corporation has also applied pursuant to section 2.020 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Regulations for licenses to drill three wells at surface locations in Legal Subdivision (LSD) 11, Section 28, Township 15, Range 6, West of the 4th Meridian, LSD 13-28-15-6W4M, and LSD 15-28-15-6W4M in the National Wildlife Area. The purpose of the proposed wells would be to obtain gas production from the Milk River formation, Medicine Hat sands, and Second White Speckled shale. The proposed wells would not contain hydrogen sulphide.


For more information, media may contact:

Lucille Jamault
Senior Communications Advisor
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Tel.: 613-957-0434

Document Reference Number: 888

Date modified: