On Wednesday, the Alberta Energy Regulator reported that Trident Exploration abandoned over 4,400 licensed sites after the company’s lender withdrew funding from the exploration firm.
The Calgary-based company was focussed its operations on natural gas which has suffered weak prices for several years.
Trident informed the AER that it will halt operations on April 29. Following that, the regulator ordered the company to address end-of-life obligations of its approximately 4,400 sites by decommissioning the sites, posting financial security, or transferring the sites to responsible energy companies.
On April 30, AER learned that “without responding to our order or addressing their regulatory obligations, the directors ceased operations, terminated employees and contractors, and then resigned.”
According to a press release from the AER, Trident said it does not have the funds to operate its infrastructure or enter into creditor protection and as a result, the sites, many of them active, will be left without an operator.
The regulator says for several weeks it has been working with Trident to “address concerns about its ability to continue operating to ensure that their assets end up in the hands of responsible operators and that end-of-life obligations are addressed to the greatest extent possible.”
The AER says its mandate is to protect public safety and the environment while ensuring responsible energy development.
“Addressing end-of-life obligations is essential to responsible energy development,” the regulator wrote in a press release. “The AER has a responsibility to uphold the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that financial matters do not have priority over environmental responsibilities.”
The regulator says it will assess all options for possible enforcement and will ensure the public and environment will be protected and the AER says it will assess any high-risk sites to ensure there are no immediate risks.
Trident’s infrastructure will either be shifted to other operators, safely decommissioned or, as a last resort, transferred to the Orphan Well Association.
Anyone who has concerns about any Trident Exploration site is asked to contact the AER’s complaint and emergency response line at 1 800 222 6514.
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