Premier Scott Moe says Saskatchewan has a plan to distribute $400 million to oilfield companies to clean up inactive oil wells across the province.
In May, the province announced its plan to use the federal money to remediate oil wells in the province that had been inactive for at least 12 months.
However, former Liberal MP Ralph Goodale challenged the premier this week, noting that the province had only allocated 10 per cent of the money in the fund.
In response, Moe said the province has a plan to make sure the money is used.
"I would say, 'Buckle up, Mr. Goodale and others,'" he said.
"We have our process in place to ensure that those dollars are dispersed."
As of September, the province had completed $4 million in work projects and had approved $34 million in work packages.
The money was funded through the federal government's COVID-19 economic response plan and administered by the Saskatchewan Research Council. It's expected to clean up as many as 8,000 inactive wells and create the equivalent of 2,100 full-time jobs.
At the time, the news was welcomed by workers in the oilfield, as many of them were already unemployed before the pandemic started.
Minister of Energy and Resources Bronwyn Eyre said the project is running smoothly and expected $100 million of work to be allocated before the end of the year.
"We wanted to take the time to get the program right — to make sure Saskatchewan operators and Saskatchewan service companies were on board with the program," said Eyre.
She said Goodale was "misinformed and misguided" about the initiative.
Eyre said the well services sector continues to be a big booster of the program.
"We felt it was very important to get the oil and gas service sector back to work," she said.
"It was the service sector that was among the hardest hit by COVID and the perfect storm of the OPEC oil price war on top of that."
Eyre said the federal government has not transferred the program money to the province yet.
She said future phases of the program will deal with the province's "orphan wells," or wells that have been abandoned by energy companies that are no longer functioning.
Eyre said there are 175 orphan wells in the province, compared to about 3,000 in Alberta.
During the initial announcement, the province said the work is expected to be completed over the next two years.