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Governments Are Making Taxpayers Subsidize Corporate Cleanup of Oil and Gas Wells

Governments Are Making Taxpayers Subsidize Corporate Cleanup of Oil and Gas Wells

Companies are responsible for dormant wells, but the public is helping foot the bill.

The B.C. and Canadian governments have promoted a $100-million fund to clean up dormant oil and gas wells in the province as a “win-win” for the environment and the economy.

But the biggest winners may be the major oil and gas companies that own the sites.

“To find out the major recipients of this are companies that are perfectly able to clean up their own mess is not surprising, but disappointing,” said Peter McCartney, climate campaigner with the Wilderness Committee environmental group.

“It’s another subsidy,” he said.

McCartney received information on the grant recipients from B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation in response to a freedom of information request that he shared with The Tyee. The document provides details on the first $50 million to be distributed in the province.

A quarter of that money, $12.4 million, is dedicated to cleaning up sites where Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is the permit holder. The corporation, based in Calgary, is worth $45 billion.

The second biggest share, $7.9 million, is for Petronas Energy Canada Ltd. sites. The Canadian subsidiary’s parent company is owned by the Malaysian government.

Media contacts for CNRL and Petronas didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Other prominent companies among the 41 permit holders listed include Enerplus Corp., Ovintiv Canada ULC, ExxonMobil Canada Energy, Husky Oil Operations Ltd., Imperial Oil Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Painted Pony Energy Ltd., Tourmaline Oil Corp. and Whitecap Resources Inc.

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the tyee, oil and gas industry, andrew macleod, british columbia,

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