FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall has introduced legislation that, if enacted, would oversee improved restoration of orphaned oil and gas wells in B.C.
If approved by the legislature, Bill 15, the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Statutes Amendment Act, 2018, will amend the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act. Amendments to the OGAA would improve funding for orphan site restoration by replacing the current tax structure with a levy to be paid into an industry-funded program that addresses the cost of restoration and environmental clean-up. Additional amendments would also limit orphan sites by granting the commission the ability to require permit holders to conduct restoration work on inactive sites.
The BC Oil and Gas Commission would also have the power to refuse permit requests if parties had a history of non-compliance.
“We are taking action to deal with the growing number of orphaned well sites by cleaning them up, as well as preventing this from happening in the future,” said Mungall. “Industry will continue to be responsible for their activities, as we provide additional tools for the BC Oil and Gas Commission to protect the environment.”
The levy will be set by the BC Oil and Gas Commission board, with Treasury Board approval.
Other amendments to the OGAA will increase the commission’s authority to protect public safety and recover the costs associated with these activities. For example, the OGC would be able to establish roadblocks, if necessary, when dealing with an emergency, and recover the cost of those activities from the permit holder responsible for the situation. Other amendments would improve the commission’s operations and strengthen their capacity to manage heritage resources.