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Ottawa contributing $1.7B to orphan well cleanup in west
EDMONTON -- Canada is sending billions of dollars in aid to the country’s bruised energy sector with a double focus of helping companies maintain environmental targets.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday morning Ottawa would be investing $1.7 billion in orphan and inactive well cleanup in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and B.C.
“Our goal is to create immediate jobs in these provinces while helping companies avoid bankruptcy and supporting our environmental targets,” Trudeau said.
Alberta’s Orphan Well Association estimates there are some 6,500 abandoned wells throughout the province.
The money is supposed to help keep 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney thanked Ottawa for the sizeable investment, saying it would keep companies afloat during the pandemic.
"It will also help us bring sites back to their original condition, leaving a cleaner environment for future generations," the premier said in a statement.
Kenney cautioned that the $1.7 billion is only a "first step" in dealing with the energy sector crisis and more support will be needed.
"When the auto sector and the banks were threatened during the global financial crisis a decade ago, the economic strength of Alberta, powered by the energy industry, ensured that Canada was able to provide the urgent support they needed," he said.
The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors also welcomed the news, saying it meant "many of our members can count on steady work this year."
Canada is also creating a $750 million emissions reduction fund focused on methane pollution, and which earmarks $75 million specifically for offshore firms on the east coast. Trudeau said the fund would be distributed as repayable contributions that would help businesses maintain their competitiveness, staff and climate targets.
“Just because we are in a health crisis doesn’t mean we can neglect the environmental crisis.”
The commitments were made alongside more help for medium and small-sized businesses.