Canadian Manufacturing

Enviro minister says it’s industry’s responsibility to clean up inactive wells

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada remains hopeful that dormant well clean-up well get federal and provincial support



CALGARY—The head of an oil and gas industry group says he remains hopeful that efforts to clean up dormant wells in Alberta may eventually get some federal support, spurring some much-needed employment in the province.

Mark Salkeld, with the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, made his remarks after meeting with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr in Calgary.

The association asked Ottawa in March for $500 million in infrastructure money to help decommission a fraction of the 75,000 inactive wells across the province.

Salkeld pitched it as an opportunity to put people back to work in the oilfield services industry, which has been hit hard by the downturn in oil and gas prices.

Industry players were disappointed that the March 22 federal budget made no mention of the group’s oilwell cleanup idea, or a similar one from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Salkeld says he’s modified his federal ask somewhat since then, with an increased focus on a role for Alberta’s Orphan Well Association.

That group deals with inactive oil and gas sites where there’s no company able to handle the cleanup. It would co-ordinate much of the work.

“We could go back to work tomorrow quite easily,” Salkeld said.

Salkeld said although he came away with no promises for federal funds following the meeting with Carr and McKenna, it was a “very, very good conversation.” There was also talk about the need for new pipelines to get a better market price for Alberta crude.

Carr and McKenna both said it’s industry’s responsibility to clean up inactive oil and gas sites.

“If that’s not possible, then it’s a provincial responsibility. If the premiers of Saskatchewan and Alberta make this a top infrastructure priority, then the government of Canada will be glad to sit down and discuss it with them,” Carr told reporters.

Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd has expressed enthusiasm for PSAC’s well cleanup plan. Salkeld said Tuesday conversations are ongoing with the province.

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