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B.C. announces first $50 million in funding for dormant site reclamation

B.C. announces first $50 million in funding for dormant site reclamation

The Governments of Canada and British Columbia are working together to support Canadian energy workers during these difficult times by creating thousands of jobs that will have a lasting benefit on the environment as the economy continues to safely restart.

Seamus O'Regan, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources; Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson; and Bruce Ralston, British Columbia's Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, announced that the first $50 million under British Columbia's Dormant Sites Reclamation program has been allocated. The funding will support energy jobs at 79 individual service companies that will undertake reclamation work on 1,880 dormant wells in the province, creating over 1,200 jobs in the process.

"The success of this program and the many companies that have already taken advantage of it is a great example of how the federal and provincial governments can work together to sustain jobs and support Canadians, now and in the future," said O'Regan.

The British Columbia Dormant Sites Reclamation program was established following the Government of Canada's April 2020 announcement of a $1.72-billion support package to create jobs, better protect the environment, and support a sector that has faced challenges from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing pressure on global commodity prices. This support included up to $120 million for the Government of British Columbia to support work to clean up dormant, orphan, and legacy oil and gas sites across the province.

"Cleaning up orphan wells is good news for the environment and the economy, as it stops the leak of harmful methane emissions and also supports energy sector workers here in B.C. This program is a great example of how Canada is working with the provinces to take environmental and social responsibility in the transition to a clean energy future," Wilkinson commented.

"The Dormant Sites Reclamation program helps clean up the environment and get our economy moving again. We're pleased to partner with the federal government to support B.C. workers in oil and gas service companies to make a positive difference in the environment and our communities," said Ralston.

In addition to the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program, British Columbia also established the Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation Program, which will clean up oil and gas sites where the operator is insolvent or cannot be located and is incremental to the $27 million in BC Oil and Gas Commission-planned cleanups of such wells. This is in addition to British Columbia's Legacy Sites Reclamation Program, which will help contribute to Canada's goals of protecting the environment by addressing the environmental impacts of historical oil and gas activities.  

"It is certainly a great time to be in the decommissioning, well abandonment and environmental fields in B.C. There will be lots of overflow work for the many support roles that are required in the path for site closure. The true economic benefits to industry will be seen over the next 16 years or so, when the bulk of the dormant sites in B.C. are required to be decommissioned, assessed, remediated and reclaimed," said Kaitlyn Hogg, Environmental Lead at Prospect Environmental Services, Fort St. John. They were a recipient of up to $1.8 million to support the reclamation work, including preliminary site investigation, reclamation and remediation tasks on 67 well sites.

Applications for the second increment of $50 million from the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program will open on November 1, 2020, and will take into consideration sites that Indigenous communities , landowners and local governments have nominated to clean up.

The government is supporting workers across Canada and across sectors that face this crisis to support jobs today and ensure a strong, fair and cleaner Canada.

Quick Facts

  • There are 25,000 oil and gas well sites in B.C., of which approximately 770 are considered orphan. In addition, there are currently 7,933 dormant well sites in the province.
  • The 805 applications from 79 B.C. service companies approved by the province encompass 4,800 reclamation work activities on 1,880 dormant wells in B.C. held by 41 permit holders.
  • The decommissioning and restoration of oil and gas sites in B.C. is regulated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC), which last year developed a Comprehensive Liability Management Plan to ensure a timely cleanup of wells.
  • Successful oil and natural gas field services contractors are eligible for up to $100,000 or 50 percent of total costs, whichever is less, to go toward cleaning up dormant wells. The program also provides Indigenous peoples, landowners and local communities in British Columbia with the opportunity to nominate dormant sites for reclamation.