A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta promises to fix rules on aging energy wells

Cleanup group says companies must be prevented from buying facilities they can’t afford to clean up

The Alberta government is promising to update the province’s rules for ensuring energy companies clean up their wells.

A group tasked with cleaning up thousands of abandoned energy sites in Alberta has said current rules don’t do enough to prevent companies from buying facilities they can’t afford to clean up.

The Orphan Well Association is specifically concerned about a proposed sale of hundreds of toxic gas wells, pipelines and other facilities from Shell Canada to a much smaller company.

Two large energy companies, as well as 14 area landowners, are also concerned about Shell’s sale of a southern Alberta sour gas field to Calgary-based Pieridae Energy.

Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal says new policies are coming within months to address the life cycle of energy sites, including the transfer of old wells.

Bal says cleanup is to be paid for by industry, not taxpayers.

READ MORE: Bankrupt energy companies can’t abandon old wells, Supreme Court rules

The Canadian Press

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