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

Trial date set in Castlegar RCMP shooting death

Constable Jason Tait has elected a jury trial.

Morning start: This famous singer is from the West Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Tuesday, May 26

RDCK recycling depots to join RecycleBC program

Some depots open, others close, and different materials will be accepted

West Kootenay SAR crews rescue injured mountain biker near Rossland

Crews were called in to help after the biker seriously injured himself at around noon Saturday

Suspected fentanyl and cocaine seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

Most Read