Economic response plan targets orphaned wells

The recently announced federal Economic Response Plan includes provisions to clean up orphaned and inactive oil and gas wells in Western provinces. British Columbia, which has 350 orphaned wells, will see $120 million through this new initiative. This provision responds to advocacy by FCM and the Western Economic Solutions Taskforce, of which UBCM is a member. Other measures announced by the federal government include a loan program to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production.

In B.C., orphan wells are managed by the Liability Management Branch of the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. Clean-up costs can range between $100,000 to several million dollars per well depending on the complexity and size of the well and the degree of contamination.
Cleanup work is typically carried out by small and medium-sized oil and gas service firms. Those firms employ nearly 60,000 people across the three provinces.  Clean-up work is considered an essential service under the government’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Economic Action Plan also includes well publicized provisions for small business along with a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. This support fund will provide $500 million to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors to support artists and athletes. The Fund will be administered by Canadian Heritage.

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