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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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