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Abandoned oil and gas wells will be cleaned up despite backlog: Alberta regulator

Click to play video: 'University of Calgary study looks at abandoned oil well burden in Alberta' University of Calgary study looks at abandoned oil well burden in Alberta
Three independent investigations have determined that the former head of the Alberta Energy Regulator grossly mismanaged tax dollars. Tom Vernon has the details – May 20, 2021

The head of Alberta’s energy regulator says his agency has all the tools it needs to be able to clean up the province’s massive backlog of abandoned and inactive oil and gas wells.

And Laurie Pushor, now a year into his tenure at the helm of the Calgary-based Alberta Energy Regulator, says the office is gradually regaining the trust of Albertans.

Read more: 3 executives booted from Alberta Energy Regulator

More than half the province’s wells are no longer producing and the regulator has predicted the number of those wells would double between 2019 and 2030.

Click to play video: 'Investigation finds misuse of funds, scant oversight at AER' Investigation finds misuse of funds, scant oversight at AER
Investigation finds misuse of funds, scant oversight at AER – Oct 4, 2019

But Pushor says new rules coming this fall, which will force companies to spend a certain amount on reclamation every year, will make a big difference.

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Read more: Study finds abandoned oil and gas wells place unfair burden on landowners, taxpayers

In the oilsands, he says the province’s plan to collect clean-up payments toward the end of a mine’s life will answer criticism that Alberta’s environment is inadequately protected.

And Pushor says the regulator is keeping a close eye on recent coal exploration to make sure companies cover their tracks when they’re done.

Read more: $400M available in next round of funding to clean up orphan oil wells in Alberta

Pushor says the agency has had a tough year after budget cuts and leadership problems, but it still has the resources to do the job that Albertans expect.

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