The Government of British Columbia announced on Thursday that it is awarding the second instalment of $50 million provided by the federal government to projects that will clean up dormant oil and gas sites in the province.
The first phase of the Dormant Sites Reclamation Project (DSRP) enabled 79 BC-based service companies to reclaim nearly 1,900 dormant oil and gas wells. To qualify for funding from the project, field contractors must be based in BC, with registration, office and operations in the province.
According to a press release issued by the Horgan government, funding for the second round of the DSRP prioritized applications from field service companies that have contracts to work on sites nominated by Indigenous people, local governments and landowners.
“By working collaboratively with Indigenous Nations and seeking community input, the second round of the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program (DSRP) leverages local knowledge to restore oil and gas sites of concern,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.
Seamus O’Regan Jr., federal Minister of Natural Resources said cleaning up the dormant well sites keeps workers on the job in BC.
“We’re protecting the environment and supporting the hard-working men and women in our oil and gas sector – including in First Nations communities,” added O’Regan.
Fifty-three BC-based oil and gas field service companies are being awarded funding to do work on nominated sites. The online nomination portal received 1,853 nominations for 1,464 dormant well sites. The second round of the DSRP will support work on 716 of these well sites, of which 659 were nominated by Indigenous people. Eleven Indigenous-owned oil and gas contractors will carry out site restoration work.
“The Halfway River Group, a collection of Halfway River First Nation businesses, would like to acknowledge that the processes implemented during the second round of funding for the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program has opened the door for our participation, incentivizing our inclusion, in a manner that was not available to us in the first round of funding,” said Brad Bonner, president and CEO of the Halfway River Group. “These opportunities cultivate an optimism and spirit that makes a visible and tangible difference within Indigenous communities.”
Support for the DSRP comes from $120 million in federal funding provided with the goal of promoting job opportunities for oil and gas service workers, many of whom are facing the dual challenges of slowing natural gas investment and a global pandemic. The program provides successful applicants with up to $100,000 for work on dormant oil and gas well sites.
“Oakridge Environmental Engineering Inc. is pleased to be involved in the British Columbia Dormant Sites Reclamation Program,” said Larry Neufeld, principal engineer at Oakridge Environmental Engineering. “The program provides important funding for reclamation of sites no longer in use by utilizing British Columbia workers and British Columbia companies.”
There are currently 9,055 dormant well sites in B.C. The decommissioning and restoration of oil and gas sites in BC is regulated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission. In 2019, the commission developed its Comprehensive Liability Management Plan that ensures industry pays for the costs of cleaning up dormant oil and gas sites in the future.