Saskatchewan has a proposal to get oil patch workers back on the job, cleaning up abandoned wells.
Premier Brad Wall said it would help stimulate employment in the oil-and-gas sector and accelerate environmental cleanup of wells that are no longer capable of production.
Wall said he has pitched the proposal, which would cost Ottawa $156 million, to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Here is a chance for us to actually put people back to work in the energy services sector and continue with the cleanup (of suspended wells), perhaps at a more accelerated rate,” Wall said Monday.
He estimates the program would generate 1,200 jobs and speed up the decommissioning and reclamation of 1,000 non-producing wells in Saskatchewan over the next two years.
Work would include safe removal and disposal of old equipment, remediation of any spills, covering wells in concrete to eliminate venting of greenhouse gases such as methane and revegetation of the land.
The federal government has indicated it is considering the proposal, Wall said.
“I look forward to a favourable response.”
Saskatchewan’s proposal is the brain child of Matt and Dan Cugnet, owners of Valleyview Petroleums Ltd., a family-owned exploration and production company in Weyburn.
Cugnet said the service sector has been hit hard by the economic downturn caused by low oil prices, forcing his and other companies to lay off trained workers with lots of experience.
He said hiring those workers to deal with suspended wells would help the economy and the environment.
“A program like this gets people working. It does eliminate the problem wells before it becomes a liability.”
It would also encourage workers to not move away from the region in search of other jobs, he suggested. Employees will be needed when the price of oil and the industry’s prospects bounce back, he said.
“We are trying to hold on to our people as best we can. Otherwise we lose their skill set, knowledge and experience.”