The Alberta government has announced a CAD1bn ($711.9m) project for the cleaning up of abandoned oil and gas wells across the Canadian province.

Dubbed as Site Rehabilitation Program, projects which will begin from May 2020 will be funded mainly by the Canadian government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Under the programme, oilfield service contractors will be given grants to undertake well, pipeline, and oil and gas site reclamation work.

Alberta government expects 5,300 new jobs from the cleanup project

The project is estimated to generate nearly 5,300 direct jobs, while paving way for the cleanup of thousands of sites across Alberta. It will involve closure work such as remediation and reclamation on inactive wells and pipelines, removal of abandoned in-place pipelines, and phase 1 and 2 environmental site assessments.

According to the Alberta government, the project will make sure that the sites are safe for landowners and for people in the province apart from ensuring that there are no negative environmental impacts.

Alberta Minister of Energy Sonya Savage said: “Alberta’s energy industry is the largest subsector of Canada’s economy, as well as one of its biggest job creators.

“We are creating almost 5,300 jobs for Alberta’s energy workers, while completing important work decommissioning and reclaiming abandoned pump jacks, pipelines and wells. This will ensure that sites are properly addressed, benefiting landowners and Albertans across the province.”

The Site Rehabilitation Program will offer grants in the range of 25-100% of total project costs, which will be based on the ability of the oil and gas company, which will take up the cleanup work of the site. The grants will help pay for cleanup and will be directly paid to the oilfield service provider completing the work.

Between 1 May and 31 May, the programme will be open to service firms that are impacted significantly by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. The firms can get contracts of up to CAD30,000 ($21,346) per application across Alberta.

From 15 May to 15 June, the programme will be open to service providers for contracts of up to CAD30,000 ($21,346) and eligible for 100% funding. This increment will be focusing on sites where certain operators have failed landowners and where government is compensating them in accordance with the Surface Rights Act.