Thursday, 01 June 2017 11:10

AFA commends Alta. orphan well loan, urges further action

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With the announcement of an almost quarter billion dollar, interest-free loan to the Orphan Well Association by the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA) officials are hopeful the funds will begin to truly address the clean up and reclamation of abandoned wells found on agriculture land throughout the province.

“Over the last 30 years, farmers and landowners throughout the province have been dealing with the effects of un-reclaimed wells that have been abandoned by their owners,” said Lynn Jacobson, president of the AFA.
“We look at this loan as a good start in beginning to address the issue.”
Currently, Alberta’s landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells, all of which are required to be sealed and cleaned up by their owners once their productive life is over.
Where no legally responsible and/or financially viable owner can be identified, the well is identified as an orphan or abandoned well.
Abandoned wells become prone to failure that can result in contamination of surface and ground water and environmental damage to plants and wildlife.
“Orphan wells can present serious challenges for farmers, sometimes leading to water contamination and other environmental damage,” noted Jacobson. “With close to 200,000 wells that are either suspended or abandoned, and over 37,000 that are exempt from reclamation, action is absolutely critical.”
The Alberta Federation of Agriculture continues to ensure the viewpoints of farmers are brought to the forefront by being engaged in Alberta Energy’s current liability management consultations. 
The organization requests the following actions be brought to fruition:
• All the wells and facilities for which this loan is used are reclaimed to today’s reclamation standards.
• The 37,100 wells that, because of their age, are currently exempt from reclamation or have a lower reclamation standard, be reclaimed to the 2017 standard.
• Calculation of future reclamation levies, as well as all transactions that the loan money pays for, be given independent scrutiny by the Province’s Auditor General to ensure they are used appropriately.

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