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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. found liable for damage to water well

Seismic activity by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) in 2006 resulted in the loss of production from a water well owned by Robert Somerville, a cattle rancher.  The Provincial Court of Alberta found that CNRL was liable for nuisance as a result of the interference. 

CNRL had failed to pay to Somerville agreed permit fees under a contract for access to his property.  The Court awarded Somerville the permit fee owing of $777.  It did not award Somerville damages for crop loss as it found that this related claim had not been proven.  It also did not award Somerville anything toward the replacement cost of the well.  The Court found that the water well was going to need to be replaced in any event within five to ten years.  Somerville had made an application to the Farmer's Advocate Water Well Replacement Program and had received over $48,000 toward the total replacement cost of about $77,000.  The Court found that this payment exceeded the damages for which CNRL was liable, which would have been approximately $23,000 (based on the interest that could have been earned on the total cost of a new water well over the ten year period that the well was expected to last but for the interference of CNRL). 

Read the decision at: Somerville v. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.