Old wells to be reviewed

An orphan well site near Carstairs awaiting proper abandonment and reclamation. – GOA Photo

by Morinville News Staff

The province announced Wednesday it is working with industry and experts to find ways to better protect Albertans and the environment by improving policies for managing old oil and gas facilities.

Alberta has roughly 180,000 active wells, 83,000 inactive wells, and 69,000 abandoned wells. The government defines an orphan well as “a well or facility confirmed not to have anyone responsible or able to deal with its closure and reclamation.” Inactive wells are those wells or associated facility where activities have stopped due to technical or economic reasons.

The government will consult with key stakeholders and experts on the subject in a series of roundtable discussions on improving “the management of historic, current and future liabilities associated with the full life-cycle of upstream oil and gas development.” Representation will include industry, landowners, environmental groups, municipalities and Indigenous communities.

“Albertans are concerned about the growing problem of orphaned and aging oil and gas infrastructure,” said Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy, in a media release Wednesday. “Many landowners are directly affected by this, and it’s a problem that has been ignored for far too long. It’s important we take action and find the best way to improve the system and ensure these sites are managed responsibly.”

The review is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.

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