ARC is a Canadian oil and gas corporation, with its largest assets focused on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Montney play of British Columbia (BC) and extracting conventional crude oil in the Pembina Cardium region of Alberta.
As one of the largest operators in BC’s burgeoning fracking industry, ARC’s activities are linked to the longstanding and severe consequences that fracking operations have brought to the doorsteps of those living in the province’s northeast, including water contamination, land disturbance and the violation of Indigenous and Treaty rights. The company makes it into our Top 50 in the emitters category.
Head office: Calgary, Alberta
Countries of operation: Canada
Total production: 122,937 boe/d including crude oil, natural gas and condensate. 19
Production: crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids: 35,303 bbl/d; natural gas: 525.800 MMcf/d
Total reserves: 136,169,000 oil bbl, 2,220,900 gas MMcftotal: 122,937 boe/d. 20
Net income as of 2017: C$388.9 million 21
Revenue: C$1.1 billion22
Number of employees: 51923
Memberships: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
ARC was created as a royalty trust in 1996 with the purchase of several properties from Mobil Oil Canada. In 2005, ARC bought two oil assets in the Pembina Cardium region from Imperial Oil and Exxon Mobil, and in 2010, it purchased the Canadian oil company Storm Exploration Inc. for $680 million, adding significantly to its Montney assets.1 In 2016, the company sold off $700 million of its Saskatchewan assets to Spartan Energy Corporation, further emphasizing its operational focus on the country’s westernmost provinces. 2 The same year, ARC purchased Boulder Energy Ltd., a Calgary-based oil and natural gas producer, for over $250 million.3
ARC was established in 1996, initially focusing its operations on conventional crude oil extraction in the Pembina Cardium region in Alberta. Crude oil and liquids extraction continues to hold a sizable share of its overall operations—approximately 30 per cent—but the majority share of ARC’s production consists of fracking, most of which takes place in the Montney natural gas play in northeastern BC, along with other, less substantial fracking operations throughout the province.4
The Montney play extends throughout northeastern BC and west-central Alberta and holds some of the largest natural gas reserves in North America, surpassing many of the United States’ largest fracking fields, including the Marcellus, Haynesville and Utica.5ARC’s production in the BC region of the Montney formation has grown exponentially since it began operations in 2000, making significant expansions to its largest asset in the Montney, the Dawson play.6
ARC reports that it intends to “balance” production growth with attempting to “keep emissions as low as possible,” 7 by reducing the emissions intensity of the fuels it produces while emphasizing the role of technological advancements to lessen carbon output during production. Accordingly, ARC has reduced its emissions intensity since its baseline year of 2010. It has also stated that it is willing to switch to hydroelectricity in plants that are currently being built. Notably, this energy will likely be supplied through the forthcoming Site C dam in the Peace River Valley,8 a project which has not received the consent of many First Nations whose traditional territories would be directly impacted by its construction.9 While ARC does appear to be lessening the climate impacts of its fuel per unit, it continues to increase overall production, and it has committed to extensive growth on an annual basis. Therefore, while per unit emissions may be decreasing incrementally under ARC’s strategy, overall emissions at its production sites will continue to rise as a growing number of units of gas are extracted. ARC’s reductions in the emissions intensity of its production activities also do not reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from its products at the point of their consumption—meaning ARC’s total extracted carbon (the total amount of fossil fuels removed from below the ground each year) is not accounted for in its sustainability planning.10 Meanwhile, the company’s 2018 financial statements commit most of its capital investment to its Montney operations, including the expansion of new and existing gas plants at Dawson and Sunrise, indicating its intention to substantially increase its fracking operations in the coming years.11
Cumulative impacts on the Blueberry River First Nations’ territory
The Blueberry River First Nations’ territory extends throughout the Montney formation, where the cumulative impacts of fracking and other forms of resource extraction by ARC Resources and other corporations threaten the Nations’ ability to live on their traditional lands. A 2016 report found that 84 per cent of Blueberry River’s territory has been negatively impacted by industrial activity. The report found that, since 2013, the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) had authorized 2,600 oil and gas wells, 1,884 km of petroleum access and permanent roads, 740 km of petroleum development roads, 1,500 km of new pipelines and 9,400 km of seismic lines to be constructed within their territory.12 In 2015, the Nations launched a civil claim against the provincial government, arguing that sustained development on their traditional territory means that their community members cannot access the land and resources to sustain the patterns of economic activity and land use promised to them through their Treaty 8 rights.13
Failure to clean up fracking well sites
In 2015 the David Suzuki Foundation found that ARC Resources had suspended a number of its fracking wells without carrying out the necessary reclamation activities required by the BC OGC.14 According to the OGC, any oil and gas site that is no longer productive must first be restored before the company ceases to pay any surface land tenures. At each site, the report found that surface infrastructure remained in place, including remnants of the wellheads and compressor stations.15
The chemical impacts of ARC’s fracking operations
Fracking fluids consist of chemicals injected into wells along with salt- or freshwater to increase the amount of fossil fuels that can be extracted. Among the chemicals that ARC injects into its wells are formaldehyde, naphthalene, monohexyl ether and methyl alcohol, and modified thiourea polymer.16 Many of these substances are highly toxic—exposure to naphthalene, for example, has been linked to neurologic damage, according to the EPA.17 Research suggests that fracking activity can contaminate groundwater. A comprehensive five-year study found that fracking has contaminated groundwater sites throughout the US.18 The volume of water used in ARC’s fracking operations is also significant: in 2015 the company used 1,600,000 cubic metres of water—the vast majority consisting of freshwater sources. This volume has increased substantially since 2014.[enf_note] ARC Resources, 2016 Sustainability Report, 18, http://www.arcresponsibility.com/2016-231_ARC_Sustainabilty_Report_Full_PDF_FINAL_AUG25.pdf#page=18.[/efn_note]
Learn more about Arc Resources at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.