Ottawa’s COVID-inspired pledge of $1.72 billion to clean up abandoned Western Canadian oilfields has proved popular beyond expectations.
Alberta closed its online portal two weeks ahead of plans after some 37,000 applications were submitted for the first increment of funding. British Columbia reports that the first application for its Dormant Sites Reclamation Program arrived 15 minutes after the website opened on May 25, 2020, and that 1,100 applications had been received by day’s end. Saskatchewan has released the model for its Accelerated Site Closure Program but has not yet opened the gate for applications. That is expected soon.
Each province’s program is unique.
Alberta is disbursing its $1-billion allotment in $100-million increments. The first increment was reserved for projects costing up to $30,000 and that require 100% government funding. The second increment (May 21, 2020 through June 18, 2020) has no contract cost limit. An additional $200 million are being made available to Alberta’s Orphan Wells Association. The association will repay those funds.
British Columbia’s Dormant Sites Reclamation Program is accessing $100 million of federal funding and making it available in two $50-million increments. Each increment has its own targeted priorities, application criteria, and timelines. For the first, criteria include proximity to a water source, sensitive area, sites on or near reserve lands, or sites within Treaty Land Entitlement, cultural lands and/or Indigenous peoples’ critical areas.
Saskatchewan has access to $400 million of federal funding, and says its first phase will allocate $100 million to projects that can get underway quickly. Licensees will nominate inactive wells for the program. The Saskatchewan Research Council will act as program administrator and will procure service companies to carry out the abandonment and reclamation work. Saskatchewan hopes this approach will generate efficiencies by allowing for area-based closures. However, all the contracting will be between the licensees and the contracted service companies.
In all instances, preference will be given to service providers resident in the province, and work must be done by December 31, 2022.