VICTORIA, B.C. – Minister Ralston says the new program to clean up dormant and orphan wells is designed to create jobs in Northeast B.C.

In an interview with Moose FM, the Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources says $120 million has been provided by the Federal Government to clean up wells in B.C.

Ralston said the funding would be open to oil and gas field service companies and contractors based in B.C., with registration, office and operations in B.C. “The Oil and Gas Commission will be supervising the work and examining the contracts and they have the capacity to do some field inspections. My expectation is the regulator will enforce that.”

The Minister says he wants to make sure B.C. workers benefit from the program, “That’s my goal and the reason for the program.”

The Federal Government has mandated that the funding be spent over the next two years, starting this summer. Applications will be for the program will be handled by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. The application process should begin on May 25.

The program will cover dormant, orphan and legacy sites in B.C. Of the $120 million, $100 million has been designated for dormant wells. Companies will need to apply for the funding and will have to pay for 50% of the reclamation costs with the Province kicking in the other half up to $100,000.

Minister Ralston says companies have already expressed support for the program. “I think for some companies it will be welcomed, certainly in the case of Tourmaline they signalled that publicly.”

Of about 25,000 oil and gas well sites in B.C., approximately 357 are considered orphan. In addition, there are currently 7,685 dormant wellsites in B.C.

The funding is split between three 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 B.C. 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.

Listen to the full interview with Minister Bruce Ralston below.

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