Alberta premier addresses possibility of $130M refund of unspent oilwell cleanup funds

Click to play video: 'Danielle Smith promises to advocate for rural Alberta at RMA conference, addresses unpaid oil and gas taxes'
Danielle Smith promises to advocate for rural Alberta at RMA conference, addresses unpaid oil and gas taxes
WATCH: In a campaign-style speech at a Rural Municipalities of Alberta conference in Edmonton Wednesday, Premier Danielle Smith addressed concerns of rural communities and families, including schools and education, as well as orphan wells and oil and gas companies who haven't paid their taxes. Saif Kaisar reports – Mar 22, 2023

Premier Danielle Smith wants to speak with the federal government over the province potentially having to return $130 million in unspent funds earmarked for oil and gas well cleanup.

The funding — $1 billion in total to Alberta — was provided by the federal government two years ago to clean up inactive wells. It was part of $1.7 billion program split between Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Smith said on QR Calgary’s Your Province, Your Premier Saturday that Alberta has spent $870 million of the allocated clean up funds.

“Obviously, it would have been great if we’d been able to have the factors aligned to spend all of it, but I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to have a constructive conversation with the federal government because there’s such good work here that we want to make sure it continues,” she said.

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Smith believes the late start of the cleanup program and extended periods of frozen weather are part of why all the funding wasn’t able to be spent in time.

At a conference Wednesday, Smith said she believes the federal program “really stimulated a huge amount of activity and abandonments and environmental companies who are now quite expert at this. We want to see that continue.”

She added that the province has brought in new initiatives this year, including a three per cent liability payout out of their own pockets — to increase by nine per cent each year — to help with well cleanup going forward.

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