Regan Boychuk, researcher and one of the founders of Reclaim Alberta (www.reclaimalberta.ca), will be in Rimbey on Thursday, January 16 at 7 p.m. at the Agrim Centre with a presentation titled “Orphan Wells: Crisis & Opportunities in Rural Alberta”. Reclaim Alberta is a group researching and advocating a plan for the cleanup of inactive wells as a job creation program that could ensure full employment in the energy sector for decades to come.
Orphan wells – and their associated infrastructure – are wells abandoned by oil & gas companies, where no legally or financially responsible parties are currently held accountable for the sites’ present and future liabilities and environmental cleanup. Numerous organizations and governments recognize orphan wells a critical financial matter for Albertans, given that unfunded oilfield cleanup in Alberta is forecasted to cost between $40 billion and $70 billion. Alberta’s government – and taxpayers – will be required to pay for their clean-up without responsible oil and gas companies to pay for damage done to sites.
Over 450,000 oil and gas wells were drilled in the past century. The AER lists about 93,000 inactive wells in the province today. The Financial Post has reported more than 15,000 drilled before 1964 have yet to be fully remediated. According to the AER, the number of inactive wells has jumped by about 11,000 in the past five years.
In 2019 the Supreme Court upheld the “polluter pay” principle in the Redwater Decision, whereby companies wouldn’t be allowed to claim that company insolvency protected owners and investors from paying for environmental remediation of abandoned wells, and cleanup of inactive wells takes precedence over creditors. According to the UCP government, this ruling has had the effect of chilling investor interest in new exploration. The Energy Minister Sonya Savage has announced a new regulatory framework covering the regulation of a well’s lifespan is underway, to be revealed at the end of March 2020, in part to improve investor confidence in the Alberta oilpatch.
Boychuk will discuss the present-day state of affairs and will offer an alternative to the scenario of Alberta taxpayers and landowners being liable for orphan well remediation. He will present a non-taxpayer funded remediation payment framework, to create employment and business opportunities within the provincial energy sector.
For more information call Sharon at 403-843-6431.