The country’s minister of natural resources was asked Friday whether Ottawa would consider Saskatchewan’s request for aid to clean up abandoned oil wells, a move that could create hundreds of jobs – or more – for laid-off oil workers.
The minister’s response: a firm maybe.
“There are [oil] producing provinces that are having a tough time with job losses in the sector,” Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said at a news conference in Winnipeg.
“So we will consider these requests by the government of Saskatchewan.”
On Monday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall proposed the scheme, which would stimulate employment in the hard-hit energy sector by accelerating cleanup of wells no longer capable of production.
MORE: Alberta littered with abandoned oil wells
If undertaken, the plan would speed up decommissioning and reclamation of hundreds of non-producing wells over the next two years while sustaining 1,200 new jobs, Wall said.
The technical nature of the work would likely necessitate the hiring of unemployed energy workers who are familiar with oil-and-gas production and procedures.
“These are the professionals who are best suited to well cleanup,” Wall said.
Saskatchewan’s proposal calls for $156 million in federal funding. Finding private-sector funds to pay for the clean-up could prove difficult if not impossible — many abandoned wells have no owner because the company has gone bankrupt.
WATCH: The Natural Resources Minister says he’d consider a proposal to help job creation in energy-producing provinces. As Gary Bobrovitz reports, it could help boost jobs and clean up the environment.
In Alberta, where inactive wells are numerous, such a proposal would likely be well received by the thousands of workers who’ve been laid off in the past year.
The province had more than 700 abandoned wells in 2015, a figure that’s surged four fold from the previous year as more junior oil companies cut production amid oil’s plunge.
Job losses in province’s vaunted energy sector have been the steepest in the country.
Alberta lost another 10,000 positions across all sectors last month, Statscan said last week, pushing up the jobless rate above the national average for the first time in 28 years.
MORE: One way to get ex-oil workers on job again —; cleaning up old wells
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