B.C. announces programs to clean up oil and gas wells

B.C. announces programs to clean up oil and gas wells
Province of BC
Premier John Horgan announces programs supporting jobs for B.C. workers in oil and gas service companies to clean up the environment and help restart the economy.

The B.C. government will be launching three programs to clean up orphaned and dormant oil and gas wells, in an effort to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the support of the federal government, B.C. is taking action to accelerate the restoration of more than 2,000 orphan and inactive wells,” Premier John Horgan said.

“This program will support upwards of 1,200 jobs, helping B.C. workers, the environment and our economy during these challenging times.”

On April 17, 2020, the federal government announced $120 million for B.C. to support cleaning up oil and gas sites. Subject to reaching final agreement with Canada, Horgan said the funding will go to three new programs:

  • The Dormant Sites Reclamation Program will provide $100 million to reclaim dormant oil and gas sites, which are wells that have been inactive for five consecutive years and are unlikely to be returned to service. This program will provide up to $100,000, or 50% of total costs, whichever is less.
  • The Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation Program will provide $15 million to reclaim orphan oil and gas sites where the operator is insolvent, no longer exists or cannot be located. This program will be administrated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) and will be in addition to $27 million in planned BCOGC clean up of such wells for 2020-21.
  • The Legacy Sites Reclamation Program will provide $5 million to address the legacy impacts of historical oil and gas activities that continue to have environmental impacts, such as on wildlife habitat or on the traditional use by Indigenous peoples.

These programs will be open to oil and gas field service companies and contractors based in B.C., with registration, office and operations in B.C.

Horgan also announced Wednesday the B.C. state of emergency was renewed for another two weeks. He said the state of emergency will remain in place for the “foreseeable future.”

Horgan was joined virtually by Bruce Ralston, minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources from Vancouver.

“Through these three programs, we are accelerating the cleanup of thousands of orphan and inactive wells,” Ralston said. “This allows us to restore lands of important environmental and cultural relevance, while also supporting local jobs and local economies in B.C.’s northeast.”

Indigenous communities, local governments and landowners will be able to nominate dormant, orphan and legacy sites for priority consideration for decommissioning, reclamation or restoration.

According to the government, of the 25,000 oil and gas well sites in B.C., approximately 357 are considered orphan. In addition, there are currently 7,685 dormant well sites in B.C.

After announcing the programs, Horgan also took questions during Wednesday’s press conference. One topic he addressed was the U.S. border.

The current ban on non-essential travel across the U.S. and Canada border is set to expire next Thursday.

“British Columbia is absolutely firm on the need to enforce a non-essential travel prohibition,” Horgan said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier Wednesday Canada is not yet prepared to confront the challenges that come with re-opening the shared border with the United States.

But he did not confirm whether the ban on non-essential travel will be extended to June 21.

You can watch the announcement live on the CHEK News Facebook and Youtube pages.


Last week on Wednesday, Horgan unveiled the BC Restart Plan, the gradual reopening of the province’s economy, alongside provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix, minister of health.

With files from the Canadian Press

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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