Funding to clean up Saskatchewan’s orphan wells a ‘positive first-step’ says Premier Moe

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WATCH: The federal government says they will inject billions into the energy sector in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. But as Allison Bamford explains, many hope this is a first-step, not an only step – Apr 18, 2020

In an aim to keep people working during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is investing $1.7 billion to clean up orphan wells across western Canada.

However, those in Saskatchewan are hoping it’s a first step, not the only step.

“It’s going to help to a point,” said Brad Bennett, VP of operations for Sun Country Well Servicing in Estevan.

“It will help some companies because they’re going to have revenue turning and they’ll be able to maintain the people they got.”

READ MORE: Trudeau announces $1.7B to clean up orphan wells in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan

Bennet says additional measures will need to be taken by the federal government to alleviate pressure on oil companies, like eliminating the carbon tax, even if it’s just during the pandemic.

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The government of Saskatchewan has requested federal funding to clean up inactive oil and gas wells in the province since 2016. And on Friday, Premier Scott Moe called it a “positive first step” as he awaits for more information.

“Details shared with our government to this point have been limited, and we have not been made aware of whether this is an initial step of supporting our energy industry, or the only step,” Moe said.

“With liquidity being a daily risk to energy companies, federal funding must start flowing immediately.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan projects up to $3.3B in lost revenue due to COVID-19

The province says they will continue to engage with the federal government to garner more information as they continue to advocate for more supports.

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According to the Ministry of Energy and Resources, there are 159 orphan wells in Saskatchewan that require abandonment.

Additionally, there are 481 orphan sites where the well has been abandoned, but the site is currently being reclaimed.

The $1.7 billion in funding aims to clean up these wells in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the investment will maintain 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone and will help companies avoid bankruptcy.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan provincial government unveils help for oil and gas industry

Sun Country Well Servicing is one company that is looking to benefit from the funding.

“We’re hoping we’ll get a chance to bid on all the work that’s coming up,” Bennett said.

“I don’t know whether they’re planning on giving everyone a little bit, but we’re definitely going to be quite interested and hopefully we’ll have work going forward.”

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