Skip to content

OGC marks orphan wells milestone

The BC Oil and Gas Commission says it has decommissioned two-thirds of the province’s 766 orphan well sites.

The BC Oil and Gas Commission says it has decommissioned two-thirds of the province’s 766 orphan well sites.

In an update Thursday, the OGC said 65% of orphan wells under its jurisdiction had been decommissioned at the end of 2021, while 18% had been reclaimed.

The OGC says work was completed on 515 sites between April 2020 and March 2021, thanks to both $30 million in funding from levies on oil and gas operators to restore orphan sites, and $15 million in supplemental funding from the federal government. 

Of the 515 sites, the OGC says 106 sites had wells abandoned and/or equipment decommissioned, 120 sites underwent investigation activities, 21 sites underwent remediation activities, and 70 sites had reclamation activities completed.

Fifty per cent of the federal government’s funding was directed to 81 sites that were nominated by Indigenous communities, local governments or land owners, the OGC said. Almost 20% of program spending went to Indigenous-owned companies, it said.

“With the one-time federal funding, we were able to accelerate the progress we’ve been making on cleaning up orphan sites,” OGC COO Trevor Swan said in a release. “We also incorporated feedback from those directly affected by orphan wells--Indigenous communities and local stakeholders--by creating an online web portal to nominate sites for funding.”

The OGC says it is on track to complete another 536 projects on 325 orphan sites by March 31, funded by an $18 million program sourced from the industry paid orphan levy.

Abandoned or decommissioning a well means it has been permanently plugged downhole with cement and the well head cut and capped, making it safe for the public and environment. 

Remediation activities may include the removal and transport of contaminated soil to a licensed facility for disposal and/or treatment, to ensure environmental protection. 

Reclamation is the final phase of site restoration, where a site’s soils are recontoured and planted to meet appropriate land use productivity standards.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks