​PSAC applauds $30 million coming from Ottawa to help with orphan wells

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau deliver the 2017 federal budget. Image: Flickr/Justin Trudeau

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) says it is pleased to hear the federal Government of Canada will provide a one-time payment of $30 million to the Government of Alberta to “support provincial actions that will stimulate economic activity and employment in Alberta’s resource sector.”

The announcement was made in yesterday's federal budget.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told the Canadian Press that her government will use the money to focus on reclaiming orphan oil wells and getting oilfield workers back to work.

Notley says they have been lobbying Ottawa for months for money to make sure orphan oil wells are safely closed and the land reclaimed.

She says the wells are a huge, long-standing liability for the province and the industry knows there needs to be a plan to deal with this issue.

PSAC has been advocating for loans to decommission orphan wells, pipelines and facilities to get workers in the oil and gas sector back to work.

The association says this will also improve environmental outcomes, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen Canada’s reputation as responsible stewards of the environment.

“We applaud the Government of Canada for hearing us and understanding the challenging economic circumstances faced by our sector and the need to retain skills and expertise so that it can continue to provide the economic contribution to GDP that benefits not only Albertans, but all Canadians. While the amount is less than we had hoped for, any amount helps this beleaguered sector,” PSAC CEO Mark Salkeld said in a statement.

“Decommissioning orphan wells, pipelines and facilities for which there are no current owners, would not only create middle-class jobs, the 25 plus types of services involved in this process would also support local businesses such as motels and cafes, and generate income and fuel taxes for governments. In addition, the technologies used can be taken abroad by Canadians to decommission the hundreds of thousands of wells around the world that will require such expertise and services, generating export revenue."

Notley says details on how the federal funding will be used will come out in the next few days.

--With files from the Canadian Press