It seems like an unreal number to be liable for, but at a cost of $330,000 to clean up one in-active oil well, it adds up fast.
Regan Boychuk, owner of Reclaim Alberta, a project dedicated to raising public awareness on the matter, says there's a staggering number of abandoned wells in Alberta that need to be cleaned up.
"There are about 150,000 wells that are already in-active, on top of that there's a similar number that are still active but producing little to no oil or gas, so all together, we're looking at 330,000 wells that need to be cleaned up right now or eventually."
Boychuk says there's practically no money set aside for this task.
"The Orphan Well Society, an industry-funded clean-up group, has only cleaned up 800 well sites in 15 years. In that same timeframe, 100,000 new wells were created in Alberta."
Boychuck says the cost to clean-up all the wells is more than the Province could afford to pay all at once.
"The regulators don't like to talk about it, but I'm aware that they have an internal estimate that puts the total estimate for clean up liability in Alberta, for crude oil, natural gas, the oil sands, and the coal mines at $260 Billion, more than the province will collect from royalties over the next century, and enough to bankrupt the province."
Boychuck says they've come up with practical solutions and want to raise public awareness and stimulate political engagement.
He believes with plans put in place, the clean-up alone could create thousands of long-term jobs.
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