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

Just Posted

Island man’s brother and cousin shot dead during Chicago protests

Ladysmith school principal Dionte Jelks doubts he’ll ever set foot on US soil again

Monday rang in partial return of school across Vancouver Island

School District reopening of schools came with revised health measures

Federal government says no to relaxing log export rules

News comes after Steelworkers, Mosaic ask for ‘temporary relief’ on log export policy

Fire at Victoria hotel contained to one room, leaves 20 suites in need of remediation

Fire crews extinguished the blaze at the Comfort Inn in 12 minutes

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Victoria man identified as victim in Thunder Bay murder

Police investigating after Paul Vivier, 29, discovered in hotel

Firefighters called for technical rescue at Sooke Potholes

Woman breaks her leg while walking along riverbed

Island mayor joins fight to protect wildlife from rat poisoning after second owl dies

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes to meet with provincial, federal pest control industry representatives

San Group opens Island’s first new sawmill in 15 years

New Alberni operation first in the west coast in a long time

Lake Cowichan firefighters douse blaze at vacant shop

Sahtlam called in for mutual aid as motorhome also burns

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read