WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The oil-producing Canadian province of Alberta is increasing its financial support for cleaning up wells without owners, addressing an environmental liability as it creates jobs in the slumping industry.
Premier Jason Kenney said on Monday that Alberta would loan up to C$100 million ($74.95 million) to the Orphan Well Association, which is funded by energy companies, to decommission 1,000 additional wells, doubling its pace.
The move will create as many as 500 direct and indirect jobs for oil services companies that perform the work, Kenney said.
Alberta, which produces most of Canada’s oil, has struggled for years with low prices made worse by congested pipelines and the flight of investors and foreign oil companies. Last week, Teck Resources (TECKb.TO) canceled plans for a massive oil sands mine.
There are an estimated 6,500 Alberta orphan wells, a term for wells whose owners have gone out of business, said Lars DePauw, the association’s executive director.
The latest cash injection supplements a previous C$235 million provincial loan to the association, which it started repaying last year.
Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba