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Dormant well clean-up program supports jobs, environment

Dormant well clean-up program supports jobs, environment

February 11, 2021 at 2:05 pm  BC, News, Politics

A second $50 million for the Province’s dormant well clean-up program is available, supporting jobs for B.C. workers in oil and gas service companies and reducing environmental impacts in the Northeast.

“Our dormant well clean-up program has already proven itself as a critical part of B.C.’s economic recovery, supporting nearly 1,000 jobs for local workers. This second round of funding will continue to be a ‘win-win’ for our economy and environment,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “This time around, we’re targeting inactive wells that were chosen by landowners, municipalities and Indigenous communities for priority cleanup.”

The second intake into the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program will be open to applications from oil and gas field service companies that have contracts to do work on sites nominated in 2020, to ensure clean-up efforts are focused first on community needs.

In July 2020, the Province announced a nomination portal to ensure affected British Columbians could take part in prioritizing the cleanup of orphan and dormant wells that were known locally and regionally. Indigenous communities, landowners and local governments selected specific dormant oil or natural gas sites through this online portal, which was open until the end of September 2020.

This second $50 million is part of the Government of Canada’s $120-million investment in B.C. to support cleaning up oil and gas sites. The Province divided this funding in three programs aimed at boosting the provincial economy and accelerating restoration of the environment:

  • the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program;
  • the Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation Program, and
  • the Legacy Sites Reclamation Program.

“The success of this program and the many companies that have already taken advantage of it is a great example of how the federal and provincial governments can work together to sustain jobs and support Canadians, now and in the future,” said Seamus O’Regan Jr., federal Minister of Natural Resources.

The first $50 million has made positive environmental and economic impacts in the province, with nearly 1,000 jobs supported and restoration work activities completed at 139 sites. Approximately $15 million was allocated to sites within the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. The work within the ALR includes projects planned or already underway on 325 sites for decommissioning and 122 sites for restoration work.

“Cleaning up inactive and orphan wells is good for the environment and the economy,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change.” Through this program, we are preventing the leakage of methane emissions that are harmful to human health and the environment, supporting landowners by helping to restore their lands, and protecting and creating good jobs right here in British Columbia. We will continue to work with partners, including with the Province of British Columbia, to help Canadians achieve their environmental goals and economic ambitions.”

In addition, five dormant well sites in federally listed “species at risk” habitat have completed abandonment activities. The dormant sites were in habitat that is critical to the northern mountain population of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus), located in the Snake-Sahtahneh Range in the northeastern corner of British Columbia. It is expected the first $50 million will support reclamation work at 669 dormant well sites in caribou habitat.

Eligible B.C. oil and gas field service companies and contractors, which have registration, offices and operations in the province, will receive up to $100,000 or 50% of total costs, whichever is less, per eligible work activity.

The decommissioning and restoration of oil and gas sites in B.C. is regulated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC), which has developed a comprehensive liability management plan.


Kaitlyn Hogg, environmental lead, Prospect Environmental Services –

“It is certainly a great time to be in the decommissioning, well abandonment and environmental fields in B.C. There will be lots of overflow work to the many support roles that are required in the path for site closure. The true economic benefits to industry will be seen over the next 16 years or so when the bulk of the dormant sites in B.C. are required to be decommissioned, assessed, remediated and reclaimed. However, the grant program has helped get the ball rolling and is anticipated to create several new positions within Prospect Environmental Services.” 

Jeff Campbell, DFA Consulting –

“DFA is conducting multi-site decommissioning and abandonment projects in the Northeast. This work has created thousands of man hours and is expected to continue with that same job creation over the coming years, which generates a lot of positive contribution to local communities. The program should be commended for this commitment to cleaning up these locations.”

Dale Bumstead, mayor, City of Dawson Creek –

“The federal and provincial partnership funding program aimed at the dormant well cleanup has been so very important to our community and region. The importance of supporting the local economy by creating economic opportunities in the service sector has a direct and indirect benefit to every facet of the small business sector in our community and region. The added benefit is working with landowners and local governments in identifying those dormant sites which will return this valuable agriculture land back into food production.” 

Quick Facts:

  • During last year’s nomination process, 1,853 nominations were received for 1,464 dormant sites by 14 Indigenous communities, as well as landowners and local governments.
  • Of about 25,000 oil and gas well sites in B.C., approximately 770 are considered orphan. In addition, there are 8,527 dormant well sites in B.C.
  • The Dormant Sites Reclamation Program provides $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.
  • The Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation Program provides $15 million to reclaim orphan oil and gas sites where the operator is insolvent, no longer exists or cannot be located. This program is administrated by the BCOGC.
  • The Legacy Sites Reclamation Program provides $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.

Learn More:

For information on the site nomination process visit:

For information on the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program, visit:

To find out more about the BCOGC’s management of orphan sites in B.C., visit:

For more information on the Comprehensive Liability Management Plan, visit:

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