Landowner disputes pipeline application by Shell

By Colette Derworiz, Calgary Herald September 19, 2012

 A long-standing dispute between a southern Alberta landowner and Shell Canada could flare up again after the oil and gas company applied to build a pipeline near his home.

In the spring, Shell applied to the Energy Resources Conservation Board for a licence to construct a short production pipeline to tie a sour gas well into its existing system.

Mike Judd, who lives near the hamlet of Beaver Mines, has requested a public hearing on the merits of a pipeline in the area.

“Shell is trying to suggest that I don’t have standing,” he said. “I find that quite ridiculous.”

His lawyer, Shaun Fluker, filed a letter this week with the ERCB to object to the move.

“Mike is the closest resident to the sour gas facility,” he said. “His residence, among others, is surrounded by Shell sour gas wells and pipelines. They live inside a continual emergency response zone.

“It’s quite amazing that Shell Canada is taking the position that Mike Judd is not entitled to any due process before it proceeds with yet another pipeline.”

Shell spokesman Stephen Doolan said it’s up to the ERCB whether there’s a hearing.

“Issues raised by the community are important to Shell,” he said, noting the company does its best to consult with residents affected by an application.

Doolan said only one party has filed an objection to the proposed pipeline.

“The ERCB is reviewing this objection in relation to Shell’s application,” he said. “During its review, the ERCB will determine whether to hold a public hearing as a result of the objection.

“Shell respects the decisions made by the ERCB.”

Bob Curran, spokesman for the ERCB, said the decision will be made after reviewing all of the correspondence.

“We will assess the information we have received from both parties and then make a decision,” he said, noting public hearings aren’t held for every application.

But Judd, who has lived in the area for his entire life, said he’d like to raise some of his concerns — including the integrity of a pipeline that has had problems in the area, the degradation of habitat for the endangered species in the Castle wilderness area, and his own health and safety.

It’s not the first time Judd has sparred with Shell over its work in the area.

He also took the company to court in 2010 when the sour gas project was approved less than two kilometres from his home.

Judd and his lawyer argued the ERCB failed to properly consider the province’s dwindling grizzly bear population when it approved the project.

The bid was denied.

A judge ruled that the ERCB did not err when it refused to hear Judd’s evidence, suggesting he missed a deadline to file a report authored by a grizzly bear expert and he denied Shell an opportunity to rebut his claim that the den would be harmed.

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