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

Fire damages Harrop nursery

The cause of the blaze is under investigation

Castlegar Rotary Club loses $40,000 in revenue from COVID-19 crisis

The club has had to change much of its operations during the crisis

Nelson Innovation Centre to host pitch competition

Deadline to apply for the first of three events is Sept. 24

Two new fires burning in the Arrow Lakes Region

One of the fires is burning approximately 30 kilometres northwest of Castlegar

Drug alert issued in Grand Forks after fentanyl, ‘benzos’ detected in test

They are advising additional care and to have drugs tested before using

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read