Gas flare near Dawson Creek B.C., the province’s main region for gas and oil production. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. tackles dormant oil and gas wells for COVID-19 industry jobs

Ottawa provides $120 million to B.C. for cleanup program

The B.C. government is moving ahead with cleanup and securing of more than 2,000 “dormant” or “orphaned” natural gas and oil wells, using federal funds to provide some industrial work in B.C.’s northeast region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

B.C.’s $120 million share of a federal fund will accelerate dealing with “an environmental stain on British Columbia,” with more than 7,000 wells that are either dormant or orphaned by the collapse of the company that drilled them, Premier John Horgan said.

“This program will support upwards of 1,200 jobs, helping B.C. workers, the environment and the economy during these challenging times,” Horgan announced May 13.

Applications for reclamation sites from local governments, landowners and Indigenous communities are being accepted beginning May 25, with oil and gas field service companies based in B.C. to do the work.

RELATED: B.C. Auditor General says taxpayers won’t get cleanup bill

RELATED: Trudeau pledges $1.7 billion to clean up old oil and as wells

With the oil and gas industry struggling with a world-wide price slump due to COVID-19 and a trade war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the industry in B.C. and Alberta has seen an unprecedented slowdown. With Ottawa providing aid to millions of individuals and businesses to help them through the coronavirus pandemic, the well cleanup program is the only one so far that has been directed at oil and gas, Canada’s largest industry.

Most of the cleanup fund, $100 million, is directed at dormant wells, those that have been out of production for at least five years, with little chance they will be restarted. The fund will provide up to 50 per cent of the decommissioning and cleanup costs, or $100,000, whichever is less.

Of the 25,000 oil and gas well sites in B.C., only 357 are considered orphaned, meaning the company that drilled them no longer exists or can’t be located. There is $15 million set aside for those. Another 7,685 are classified as dormant, and the new fund will augment B.C.’s existing reclamation program administered by the Oil and Gas Commission.

The accelerated program was welcomed by Indigenous leaders in northeastern B.C., where decades of drilling and processing have taken place.

“This is a win-win for the oil and gas sector and the environment,” said Chief Sharleen Gale of the Fort Nelson First Nation. “It will bring much-needed local employment for former oil and gas workers and clean up dormant, legacy and orphan wells.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Campbell River storm sign new defenceman

Coaches have had eye on player for years

Campbell River softball player takes game to Division 1 university

Saje Kurpiela to pitch for University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks

DFO says the five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Most Read