Lease transformation gaining a bit of traction

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Turning abandoned well sites into something productive is a topic Dave ‘Ceno’ Loyie Clarke of Slave Lake has been talking about for years. The basic idea is attractive: all these sites are out there, with pipe going way down under the ground but doing nothing. What if you could take advantage of that for the geo-thermal heat that is down there, bring it up to the surface and do useful things with it? Greenhouses say. Or maybe just houses!

The idea has been taken up lately by a non-profit organization called the Energy Futures Lab. It’s a sort of think tank that facilitates conversations (with municipalities and others) on alternatives to traditional energy uses and sources and so on. Just last week it did such a workshop (called ‘Energy Futures Roadshow’) with the communities of Athabasca and Whitecourt. One of the topics touched on, says Julie Rohl of the EFL, was lease transformation.

“Whitecourt is a great candidate for geo-thermal,” Rohl says.

Slave Lake could be too. Councils in this area have mentioned it more than once when they’re talking about economic development.

Asked what it would take to get an Energy Futures Lab workshop in this area, Rohl says municipalities have to apply.

As for the lease transformation idea, Rohl says she’s been working with Loyie for several years on it.

At first, “we struggled to get it to go anywhere,” she says. “But now it seems to be picking up speed.”

As noted in a Lakeside Leader article last fall, the Government of Alberta was in the process of creating a new regulatory framework to guide the development of geothermal energy. Bill 36 received royal assent on Dec. 9. Key changes in the bill, (according to alberta.ca) are as follows:

“Outlines rules and processes for industry to ensure geothermal resources are developed responsibly and in the best interests of Albertans;

  • establishes the legislative authority for land use and liability management; protects landowners and mineral rights owners, and
  • establishes government’s authority to receive revenues, such as royalties and fees.”
    Also reported last fall was a proposal by a private firm to develop a geothermal power plant near Swan Hills, making use of a network of existing oil wells.
Geo-thermal potential in the Slave Lake area.
Photo courtesy of Terrepin Geothermics and Northern Alberta Development Council.

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