More than 1,100 applications have been submitted to a British Columbia program for funding to clean and restore dormant oil and gas wells. These applications are under a $100 million fund with the first $50 million set to support about 1,000 jobs, and the other $50 million to be disbursed in the coming months.
Energy Minister Bruce Ralston says the first half of the funding includes $15 million going towards work on sites in B.C.’s agricultural land reserve and dormant well sites. Sites include areas essential for the survival of at-risk northern mountain woodland caribou.
B.C. expects to receive $120 million from the federal government to help in cleaning inactive oil and gas sites with most of them being in the northeastern corner of the province. This is a portion of the $1.7 billion Ottawa pledged in April to help B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan clean inactive orphan oil and gas wells.
The program provides up to $100,000 or 50 percent of the cost of site cleanup, whichever is less, to eligible companies to clean their dormant sites. Another $5 million is set aside to address the impacts of historical oil and gas activities on communities and wildlife.
The funding is an extraordinary opportunity to create a number of jobs, with the first priority going to local and indigenous workers. Ralston says sites will be matched with service workers that are nominated for cleanup by Indigenous communities, local governments and landowners.
"By aligning the nomination and the application processes, we're able to ensure that local knowledge and concerns get priority," the Minister stated during a press conference in early February. The restoration work is a great opportunity to clean up the environment, get the economy moving again, and support employment during the economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.