by Claire Thoebald / The Province

Beaverlodge RCMP believe vandals used a piece of heavy equipment to rip a section of oilfield pipeline out of the ground north of Hythe, Alta.

On Sunday morning, Beaverlodge RCMP were called to a complaint of vandalism at an oilfield site.

“It is believed a piece of construction equipment was used to dig up some of the pipeline, which caused severe damage to the pipeline,” said Grande Prairie RCMP Const. Michelle Mosher.

The pipeline was still under construction and nothing was spilled.

While Mosher said this is the first instance of vandalism of this scale on an oilfield in the area she has seen in her career, the area is no stranger to violent environmental activism.

There were hundreds of acts of vandalism against the natural gas industry through the 1980s and 1990s in northwest Alberta, many against AEC West, a company operating wells near Trickle Creek.

The vandals caused anywhere between $500,000 and $700,000 in damage to the pipeline, Mosher said.

Wiebo Ludwig was convicted of sabotaging oil and gas wells in the 1990s around his Christian community of Trickle Creek Ranch, near Hythe, because he believed flared hydrogen sulphide and sour gas were linked to birth defects and miscarriages occurring in the community.

After appeals to the government to intervene went unheard, Ludwig took action into his own hands, pouring sour crude oil on the lobby carpet of government offices in Grande Prairie.

In April 2000, Ludwig was convicted for his role in bombing a Suncor well site near his home, vandalizing a Norcen Energy well by pouring concrete into it and counselling an RCMP informant to buy explosives. Despite the conviction, Ludwig maintained his innocence. He served 19 months in jail.

In 2008, RCMP investigated a link between Ludwig and threatening letters sent to media warning Encana to cease operations south of Dawson Creek and near his home of Trickle Creek. Following these letters th...