Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre announced Friday morning the province’s new inactive well program, which will access $400 million over two years.
The Accelerated Site Closure Program (ASCP) will focus on the abandonment and reclamation of inactive oil and gas wells and facilities with the goal of “getting Saskatchewan people back to work.”
“This is important environmental work, and it is important for long-term energy development,” said Eyre.
“As we work towards economic recovery, this program will get Saskatchewan people back to work,” she added.
The funding is subject to the conclusion of an agreement with Canada through the federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
According to the province, the program will be overseen by the Ministry of Energy and Resources and delivered in partnership with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). The program will prioritize Saskatchewan-based service companies and support 2,100 full-time equivalent jobs.
Eyre added the ASCP will be rolled out in several phases, with the funding component of the program administered by the SRC. She said phase one will allocate up to $100 million in funding to Saskatchewan service companies contracted to do abandonment and reclamation work.
“It’s also important to emphasize this is work that was already being done in the province prior to this announcement,” said Eyre.
“We had a strong record going into this crisis,” she added.
Eyre said last year the province cleaned up over 2,000 wells, which was up 40 per cent since 2018 and 240 per cent since 2016.
“This was done and paid for by oil companies, not taxpayers,” said Eyre.
According to Eyre, SaskBuilds has “procurement and supplier development expertise” which will make sure Saskatchewan-based companies take advantage of the program and get the work.
Eyre said there is a great deal of work involved in allocating the first phase. She added as soon as phase one is rolled out, the province will definitely be “formulating and gearing up” for phase two.
“We want it to be before winter of course, which is a major factor here,” said Eyre.
Over 8,000 wells and facilities will be abandoned and reclaimed over the life of the program.