Oil site cleanup program sees 18,000 applications in 4 days, ‘significantly’ over expectations

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Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan says interest in a new federally-funded program to put oil industry workers back to work cleaning up abandoned wells in Alberta amid the coronavirus pandemic has been “significantly higher” than expected.

During a virtual meeting of the House of Commons on Tuesday, O’Regan was pressed by Conservatives on why the federal government hasn’t yet released an industrial support package for the energy sector akin to the multi-million-dollar industrial package unveiled earlier that day for the agricultural sector.

In response, O’Regan pointed to the government’s investment of $1.7 billion in funding for B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan natural resource firms to hire energy workers to restore and reclaim well sites.

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Of that funding, $1.2 billion went to Alberta and $1 billion went specifically to launching the new Site Reclamation Program, which began taking applications on May 1.

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O’Regan’s office referred questions on the program to the Alberta government, while a spokesperson for Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said there have been close to 20,000 applications in four days.

“The Site Rehabilitation Program has seen significant uptake by oilfield service companies to remediate inactive and abandoned wells,” said Kavi Bal,

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