BROOKS, Alberta – Strathcona County RCMP laid numerous charges against Calgary-based Devonshire Energy over the Labour Day long weekend. The charges include Imprudent Pump Jack Operations, Accomplice to Distracted Driving, and Causing Unsafe Highway Conditions. Sergeant Chris P. Bacon, with the Brooks detachment details what he saw,
I had just picked up a hot batch of coffee dunkers at Timmies on 2nd Street as I headed off on routine patrol. That’s when I noticed traffic had pretty much come to a halt on the TransCanada Highway just east of Brooks.
There were vehicles lined up on the shoulders, ditches, and even a truck and RV tandem parked along the outside lane. It took me only a few minutes of questioning to figure out what was going on, and that’s when I pulled out the ticket book. – Sergeant Bacon
According to police reports, curiosity had gotten the best of the passersby, who had stopped to confirm whether or not the pump jacks along the highway were moving.
The report stated that one of the field operators had turned down 15 or 20 of his company’s pumping units to just shy of 0.1 strokes per minute (SPM). One of the witnesses who was interviewed at the scene told officers that, “it’s damn near impossible to tell if one of those damn horseheads is moving at 0.1 SPM while traveling past at 120 km/hr. Shit, I stood there in front of one of them for 30 seconds and I could hardly tell that the darn thing was on.” – eyewitness.
Ironically, the log jam started when the field’s superintendent, who was driving past with his family while on vacation, stopped to see why the jacks he expected to be between 5 and 8 SPM were seemingly not moving. Shortly thereafter, another motorist stopped to see if he needed help, and so on.
A Devonshire spokesperson had the following to say in light of the charged levied against her company,
The tomfoolery exhibited with a number of our pumping units near Brooks, Alberta, was executed unbeknownst to Devonshire Energy. After further investigation, we learned that it was a thoughtless prank planned and executed by a recent field operator who we recently hired from Bendovus Energy – I suppose this sort of stuff happens all the time over in that outfit.
We are pleased to announce that the 3 staff members who were involved with this incident are no longer working with Devonshire. – Cindy Loughkutt, Spokeswoman
Despite the company letting go those responsible for the prank, Devonshire being fined tens of thousands of dollars, and the hundreds of tickets issued to passersby, the Alberta Energy Regulator has assembled a 31-person committee to create a Directive that mandates that pumping units along busy Alberta highways be run at a minimum 20 strokes per minute.
When asked by 2P News field correspondent Rodecker Smith if that’s even possible, Dick Shorty from the AER replied, “Sure it’s possible. Is it practical from a production and reservoir engineering point of view? Perhaps not. But that doesn’t matter, we’re the AER, and what we say, goes.”