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Province collaborates with Indigenous-owned companies to clean up ‘orphan’ wells

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

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The Alberta government wants to help Indigenous companies and landowners clean up ‘orphan’ wells across the province.

Sites are considered ‘orphaned’ when energy companies abandon oil and gas facilities without completely shutting them down.

As part of the Site Rehabilitation Program initiated by the federal government, Alberta is focusing on First Nations-owned contracting companies to help with the process of reclaiming those sites.

A new application period began Friday.

“This site nomination process will enable Indigenous communities and landowners to identify sites that they want prioritized for cleanup under this program,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage. “Future application periods with larger contract limits will be launched in the coming weeks and months.”

Savage says the Alberta government has given $70 million to 140 different projects so far, including many on Indigenous land.

At total $1 billion is available through the program, though some believe the real cost of cleaning Alberta’s ‘orphan’ wells is an estimated $200 billion.