Nearly $35 million in federal money has been approved for projects that will clean up inactive oil wells throughout Saskatchewan, the provincial government announced Tuesday.
The Accelerated Site Closure Program is a $400-million program funded through Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and administered by the Saskatchewan Resource Council. It launched last May to help local oil companies abandon and reclaim wells that are no longer producing.
Projects were first approved in July, and so far the provincial government has earmarked $34 million for those projects. That includes $4.4 million toward projects that are already completed.
"Saskatchewan-based service companies were among the hardest-hit sectors by COVID-19 and the OPEC+ price war, and it was crucial to get those workers — who form the backbone of the oil and gas sector — back on the job," Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said in a news release.
As many as 8,000 inactive wells and facilities are expected to be abandoned and reclaimed during the lifespan of the closure program, which is scheduled to run until the end of 2022. The projects will create enough work for an estimated equivalent of 2,100 full-time jobs, according to the province.
Eleven operators and over 100 service companies are currently involved in the approved work packages, which are distributed across Saskatchewan's four major oil-producing regions, the province said.
It says to date, 172 wells and 38 flowlines have been abandoned, 312 wells were reclaimed and 41 facilities were decommissioned.
The Accelerated Site Closure Program is part of a $1.7-billion federal initiative to clean up oil sites across Canada.
The program allocates money directly to service companies to clean up the sites.