AB government revamps rules for well reclamation

Leader staff

Over the next few months a new framework will be implemented for oil and gas wells reclamation, says an Alberta government media release. “Taken together, the new framework will shrink the inventory of inactive and orphaned wells across the province, ensure more timely restoration of land to its original state, and protect future generations from experiencing a backlog of sites needing cleanup.

“The growing inventory of orphaned and inactive wells is an issue across North America and the world, exacerbated in recent years by low commodity prices and the resulting economic downturn. ”

The media release includes statements of support from a property rights lawyer, Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC), the Métis Settlements General Council and others.

Property rights lawyer Keith Wilson says, “Farmers and other private landowners deserve a voice in the reclamation process, to ensure industry brings their land back towards its original condition – enhancing safety and their ability to repurpose their land. This is a positive step forward on an issue that is important to many Albertans.”

Métis Settlements General Council vice-president Roechelle Gaudet says, “the Metis Settlements have long been advocates for responsible resource development. That means ensuring the work of ‘cleaning up’ is central to those operations.”

“PSAC welcomes the introduction of Alberta’s new Liability Management Framework,” says Elizabeth Aquin, PSAC president and CEO, “that will provide certainty to industry and investors while easing landowner and public concerns of a growing inventory. PSAC has long advocated for mechanisms for closure activity of orphan and inactive sites to create jobs while providing positive environmental outcomes that demonstrate our responsible resource development.”

The framework includes:

“Practical guidance and proactive support for struggling operators, helping them to manage and maximize their assets, and maintain their operations. Doing so will protect Albertans from the financial and environmental burden of more inactive or orphaned sites – while ensuring operators meet their environmental responsibilities.

“Establishes five-year rolling spending targets for reclamation that every active site operator must meet. This initiative includes the (Alberta Energy Regulator) AER’s area-based closure program, through which companies work together to share the cost of cleaning up multiple sites in an area.

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