B.C. supporting jobs in oil and gas service companies

THE Province is supporting jobs for B.C. workers in oil and gas service companies to clean up the environment and help restart the economy.

“With the support of the federal government, B.C. is taking action to accelerate the restoration of more than 2,000 orphan and inactive wells,” said Premier John Horgan on Wednesday. “This program will support upwards of 1,200 jobs, helping B.C. workers, the environment and our economy during these challenging times.”

On April 17, the Government of Canada announced $120 million for B.C. to support cleaning up oil and gas sites. Subject to reaching final agreement with Canada, the Province intends to invest this funding in three new 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 BC 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.

These programs will be open to oil and gas field service companies and contractors based in B.C., with registration, office and operations in B.C.

“Through these three programs, we are accelerating the cleanup of thousands of orphan and inactive wells,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “This allows us to restore lands of important environmental and cultural relevance, while also supporting local jobs and local economies in B.C.’s northeast.”

Indigenous communities, local governments and landowners will be able to nominate dormant, orphan and legacy sites for priority consideration for decommissioning, reclamation or restoration.

“Thanks to the co-operation between the governments of Canada and British Columbia, this program will mean a cleaner environment and much needed jobs for workers in B.C.,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.

Applications for the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program will be accepted beginning May 25.

Quick Facts:

* 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.

* The decommissioning and restoration of oil and gas sites in B.C. is regulated by the BCOGC, which last year developed a Comprehensive Liability Management Plan.

* When a site is designated an orphan, the BCOGC can use the industry-funded Orphan Site Reclamation Fund to decommission and restore the land.

* On April 16, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCOGC announced it is postponing invoicing of the Orphan Liability Levy. The Levy will still be charged for the 2020-21 year, but invoicing will be deferred until September 1.