Encana Corporation is a natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids producer operating in Canada and the United States.
Already positioned as Canada’s third-largest gas producer,23 the company has plans to substantially expand its carbon-extractive operations, putting it on our list as a top emitter.
Countries of operation: Canada, United States
Head office: Calgary, Alberta
Revenue: US$4.4 billion24
Total assets: US$15.3 billion25
Reserves: 130,800,000 oil bbl, 2,617,000 gas MMcf27
Production: oil, natural gas liquids and oil sands: 32,000 bbl/d; natural gas: 887.000 MMcf/d; total: 179,833 boe/d28
Memberships: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada
Encana (initially styled EnCana) was forged when a $21 billion merger between Alberta Energy Company and PanCanadian Energy formed the continent’s third-largest gas driller.1 The Alberta Energy Company—a former Crown corporation of the Alberta government—was privatized in 1993.2 A year later, Gwyn Morgan took the helm as company’s CEO, leading it through various incidents of corruption and environmental violations within Canada3 and abroad before it merged to become Encana, with Morgan as founding CEO, in 2002.4
In 2009, Encana split into two independent energy companies, Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy Inc. Encana remains focused on developing shale and other gas resources in North America, while Cenovus focuses exclusively on developing oil assets.5
Encana’s Canadian operations are focused on unconventional natural gas and natural gas liquids exploration and production, with operations in Alberta and northeastern British Columbia (BC), as well as off the coast of Nova Scotia. In the United States, Encana has oil and gas operations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas and Louisiana via its subsidiary Encana Oil and Gas.
|Davis Selected Advisers LP
|Viking Global Investors LP
|Causeway Capital Holdings LLC
|Causeway Capital Management LLC
|Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
|Vanguard Group Inc.
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
|PointState Capital LP
|Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group Ltd.
|Wellington Management Group LLP
|Letko, Brosseau & Associates
|Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC
|Power Corporation of Canada
|Steadfast Capital Management LP
|MLM Trust B LLC
|Bank of Nova Scotia
|Bank of Montreal
Included are all shareholdings of approximately 1% and greater. Source: Orbis Database, October 2018.
Encana is the third-largest natural gas producer in Canada,6 with its core Canadian assets comprising the Montney and Duvernay shale gas plays located in northeastern BC and central Alberta, respectively. Gas in these plays is extracted through the environmentally destructive process of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking).
Fracked gas production in the Montney region of BC has been especially central to Encana’s accumulation strategy, making it a key contributor to the shale gas “boom” in BC. In 2002, the company purchased half a million acres of land in the region.7 It has subsequently drilled over a thousand wells in the region, which have contributed to the company’s steadily rising production levels. Encana’s core asset production, for example, rose by 31 per cent from 2016 to 17,8 and the company projects that these increases will continue, stating in 2018 that it aims to double its gas production in the Montney formation by the end of the year.9
The discovery of major unconventional gas reserves in the northeastern US (especially the Marcellus and Utica shale formations) has resulted in US gas moving into western Canadian producers’ traditional markets, including Ontario and Quebec, leading to depressed natural gas prices throughout the region.10 Despite these conditions, Encana has continued to grow its production, given that much of the gas it produces is moved by pipeline to Alberta, where the biggest industrial user of gas is the oil sands industry.11 Here natural gas is used as an energy source to mine bitumen, and natural gas condensate is used to dilute bitumen (create “dilbit”) so that it can flow through pipelines. As an integral part of oil sands production, gas liquids are highly profitable, Encana’s business strategy takes this into account, and is subsequently targeting condensate-rich locations of the Montney and Duvernay plays 12 (considering them primarily in terms of their value as condensate plays rather than as gas plays), tightly tying Encana’s business strategy to oil sands expansion.13 A corporate presentation in March 2019 suggests that such “liquids growth” is central to Encana’s corporate trajectory.14
As it promises to ramp up gas production, Encana claims that its operations will have a positive impact on the climate, since natural gas could displace higher-carbon oil.15 While oft-quoted by gas manufacturers, Encana’s argument has received considerable criticism from the scientific community: methane gas, which is leaked during the fracking process, is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat within the atmosphere. Moreover, there is recent evidence that the extent of fugitive emissions has been seriously underestimated. A study by the David Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University, for example, found that fracking operations released at least 2.5 times more methane than indicated by conventional government estimates.16
Encana has been a major political party donor and is a highly active lobbyist. Of Canada-based fossil fuel firms, Encana has been the second-largest corporate political donor in BC (behind only Teck Resources), giving over $1 million to the BC Liberal Party between 2008 and 2015. These donations account for close to 25 per cent of the fossil fuel industry’s total donations in BC during that period.17 Encana is also highly active in lobbying public officials in BC. Between 2010 and 2016, Encana reported 2,510 planned communications and meetings with government officials, the fourth most of all fossil fuel firms.18
Encana’s connections to the provincial government were also entrenched through its founder and former CEO, Gwyn Morgan. When Christy Clark was elected as leader of the BC Liberal Party in 2011, Morgan was one of her key economic advisors. Morgan was also a generous donor to the BC Liberal Party, having donated a whopping $181,770 to the party between 2009 and 2017.19 Morgan is also the former chair of the board of SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian mining company with a long and varied history of illegal practices overseas. He is a current board member and donor for the right-wing think tank the Fraser Institute.20
Encana has cut a record number of jobs since the downturn in oil and gas prices in Canada: in 2016, the company reported cutting over half its entire staff in just three years.21 In recent years, however, Encana’s revenues have been on the rise again, and it is projecting to increase its spending budget accordingly.22
Learn more about Encana 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.
Encana was the second-largest producer in Canada until 2015, when it was surpassed by Canadian Natural Resources, which has made a major move into natural gas in Alberta in recent years. See Reuters, “How Canadian Natural Resources Beat Encana to Become Canada’s Top Natural Gas Producer,” Financial Post, July 18, 2016, http://business.financialpost.com/commodities/energy/canadian-natural-resources-overtakes-encana-to-become-canadas-top-natural-gas-producer.
David Suzuki Foundation, “New Science Reveals Unreported Methane Pollution from B.C.’s Oil and Gas Industry Threatens Canada’s International Climate Commitments” (news release), April 26, 2017, https://davidsuzuki.org/press/new-science-reveals-unreported-methane-pollution-b-c-s-oil-gas-industry-threatens-canadas-international-climate-commitments/; Emmaline Atherton et al., “Mobile Measurement of Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Developments in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 17, no. 20 (October 19, 2017): 12405–20, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-17-12405-2017.