Tougher Alberta rules convince oil and gas producers to accelerate well cleanups

Tougher Alberta rules convince oil and gas producers to accelerate well cleanups

Abandoned and unused wells are scattered across the province, but companies are now expected to do more

The Canadian Press

Farmer Tony Nichols says he has mixed feelings about news that oil and gas companies in Alberta are accelerating voluntary reclamation of old well sites and pipelines.

The handful of wells on his east central Alberta farm make navigation challenging for his farm equipment, but they’ve also been valuable contributors to farm income, paying between $2,000 and $3,000 each per year.

“Yeah, they’re a nuisance,” says the 75-year-old. “You have to go around them. But you get something for it.

Energy companies are obligated to eventually restore land and return subsurface Crown leases to the province, though many find it’s a difficult decision to spend money to take an asset off the books.

That’s now changing, industry observers say, in part because legacy wells are depleted and commodity prices are low. But it’s also thanks to new rules imposed last spring by the Alberta Energy Regulator to prevent financially shaky companies from running up reclamation liabilities to unaffordable levels.

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