Alberta finally cleaning up wells, but it took a job meltdown to do it

The Calgary Herald discusses how Alberta is finally cleaning up wells, but it took a job meltdown to do it.

Armed with $1 billion from Ottawa, Alberta wants to start chipping away at a massive backlog of old oil and gas wells scattered across the province that must be cleaned up.

And it wants the work to start next month.

Well, it’s not like there isn’t a lot of reclamation work to do. More than 90,000 such wells need to be cleaned up.

And it’s not like more jobs aren’t needed. Thousands of oilfield service workers are unemployed.

The new Site Rehabilitation Program unveiled Friday by the Alberta government seems like an ideal marriage between two imperatives: dealing with an environmental liability hanging over the province, while creating employment.

“For the service industry, it’s really important that we can keep as many core employees working as possible,” said Duncan McPhedran, president of Calgary-based Big Guns Energy Services, which has cut staffing by about 35 per cent this month.

“Money would have to be spent on this in the future, so why not do it now and keep us on the ground?”

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