The Alberta and Federal government announced that $400 million in funding will boost a year-old program to help decommission orphan or abandoned oil and gas sites in the province. The funding is part of Ottawa’s $1.7 billion remediation plan announced last year for old oil and gas sites in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
$100 million will be applied towards site cleanup on First Nations and Métis settlements and a portion of the remaining $300 million goes to petroleum producers who have already completed remediation work in the last two years. Alberta is to receive $1 billion as part of the Federally funded site rehabilitation program announced in April 2020.
The provincial government is in charge of disbursing the funds but has been overwhelmed with tens of thousands of applications. Nearly 42,000 applications have been submitted with less than half being approved. Of those, two-thirds are for abandoned work, while one-third is for remediation and reclamation. Although it has not been made public yet how many sites have been cleaned up under the program, the government claims that $310 million has been allocated to 633 Alberta-based companies which created 1,500 jobs. Political watchdog coalition Alberta Liabilities Disclosures Project wants more transparency around who received the funding and how that money was spent.
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage says she is pleased with the rollout so far, creating many jobs and helping to preserve the environment. With Alberta having about 94,000 inactive wells, Savage stated, “this program is going to help significantly address the problem of a very large inventory of inactive wells.” Though, further improvements have recently been made to get the funding out faster.
Applications will be accepted until the end of March 2022 and contractors must complete work by the end of December 2022.