BC Green Caucus: British Columbians should not be on the hook for a 624 percent increase in orphan oil and gas sites

March 15, 2019

VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. Green Caucus is alarmed by the Auditor General’s finding of a dramatic increase in orphaned wells at a time when government is also pushing a rapid expansion of the natural gas industry.

“For years the B.C. government has failed to ensure that resource extraction takes into account the true price of its impact on the land, leaving British Columbians on the hook for the cleanup costs,” said Sonia Furstenau, deputy leader of the B.C. Greens. “It is a fundamental responsibility of government to steward our natural resources and make sure that they exist not simply for the benefit of British Columbians today but for generations tomorrow.”

The Auditor General’s report published today, titled “The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission’s Management of Non-Operating Oil and Gas Sites,” highlighted that there is no explicit requirement for companies to decommission and restore oil and gas sites to their pre-activity conditions.

“The reports says some regulatory changes are underway, but we are ill-prepared to deal with the scale of the current problem. In the last three years the number of orphan well sites in B.C. increased 624 percent, from 45 to 326. This does not bode well for the future.

“This finding comes days after a leaked copy of the government’s commissioned scientific panel reportedly found a lack of data about the environmental and effects of hydraulic fracturing and how the industry is operating in the province.

“These are very troubling indicators as the province pushes for increased investments in the liquefied natural gas industry, which will increase the amount of oil and gas sites associated with hydraulic fracturing. Again, even as problems are raised with the status quo government continues to charge ahead, compounding the issue further.”


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