Canadian Underwriter

Alberta rolls out new rules forcing industry to pay for abandoned well cleanup

December 1, 2021   by The Canadian Press

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CALGARY – Alberta’s oil and gas regulator has rolled out new rules aimed at addressing the growing problem of inactive and abandoned wells in the province.

The new rules will require the energy industry to spend $422 million next year and slightly more in 2023 on cleanup and remediation.

Oil and gas producers seeking licences for new wells will also be assessed to make sure they are financially healthy enough to meet cleanup and closure responsibilities.

The new rules mark the first significant overhaul of Alberta’s oil and gas well liability framework in more than a decade.

Alberta’s UCP government first announced the changes last year. It said it wants to ensure industry bears the responsibility for well cleanup instead of landowners and taxpayers.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says there are more than 95,000 inactive wells in the province. There are also more than 73,500 wells that have been sealed and taken out of service but not yet fully remediated.


Feature image: A de-commissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The group tasked with cleaning up Alberta’s thousands of abandoned energy facilities says the province’s rules for ensuring polluters clean up their wells before selling them off are “inadequate.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh