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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With over 1,200 applications to clean up dormant wells, the Minister says they hope to see work start this summer.

On Monday the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission opened up applications for the Province of B.C. Dormant Well clean-up program.

On the first day, over 1,100 applications were received and another 125 on the second day.

The program will provide $100 million 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.

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources says the OGC is currently reviewing the applications, “We are making sure not one single company gets the bulk of the money. We want to make sure it’s regionally distributed around Northeast B.C.”

The $100 million for dormant wells, is split into two phases. The first $50 million was planned to be spent now with the remainder available starting November 1, 2020. The Minister says, given the popularity of the program, they may release the second $50 million earlier. “We will probably be assessing how that will roll out. It’s early days yet, but I will take the department’s advice and how best to serve the interests of the region and industry.”

The Minister hopes applications will start to be approved in the next few weeks, with work beginning this summer.

On top of this funding, the Province had already put a program in place to clean up orphan wells. The major projects in the orphan well program have been awarded, and that work should also start this summer. Orphan wells are described as sites where the operator has become insolvent or no longer exists.

The Minister says he hopes the industry in Northeast B.C. start to recover. “I hopeful that this will make a difference in recovery for sector, that has been hard hit. I’m hoping companies and people will be doing the work and making the environment better.”

Funding will only be given to oil and gas field service companies and contractors based in B.C., with registration, office and operations in B.C.

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 well sites in B.C.

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