A Calgary energy company has been ordered to abandon almost 2,000 wells, pipeline sections and other facilities over concerns about care and maintenance of the sites.

But questions remain about whether Tallahassee Exploration will be able to pay for the multimillion-dollar reclamation plan the provincial regulator has ordered the company to submit. Phone numbers for the Calgary company's office were not in operation Monday.

In a release issued Monday, the Alberta Energy Regulator told the company it has 60 days to complete the first stage of cleanup for 817 wells, 964 pipeline segments and 77 facilities.

"Abandonment work, including surface abandonment and removal of cement pads, debris and produced liquids associated with the wells, must be completed in accordance with (regulatory) requirements," the order says.

The company also has 30 days to submit a detailed plan for how it will complete remediation.

"Tallahassee has not demonstrated it is capable of providing reasonable care and measures to protect public safety and the environment and is unable to meet its regulatory and end-of-life obligations," says Monday's order.

The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates the average cost of cleaning up a well at $78,000 -- although some experts consider that figure low. Still, that figure would put the cost of remediating Tallahassee's wells at nearly $64 million, not including the pipelines or other facilities.

The regulator first issued an order in September for the company to clean up its sites.

Another order was issued in November, demanding the company provide financial information and forbidding company officials from being on its site without approval from the Orphan Well Association.

A #Calgary #energy company has been ordered to #abandon close to 2,000 #wells, #pipeline sections and other facilities and questions remain about whether #TallahasseeExploration will be able to pay for #cleanup and #reclamation.

The association is an industry-funded group that cleans up wells for which no solvent owner can be found. As of June 1, it had 2,647 sites in its inventory, which didn't include Tallahassee assets.

Tallahassee will remain the owner of those assets, although the Orphan Well Association will take control of their care and custody.

Tallahassee has a long history of regulatory and financial problems.

In 2019, the Alberta Energy Regulator rated its liability-to-asset ratio at less than half of what it considered stable. Still, the regulator approved its purchase of assets from other troubled energy companies the following year even as the Northwest Territories was blocking Tallahassee's purchase of wells in its jurisdiction.

Tallahassee failed to pay its regulatory levy and its orphan well levy in 2020, payments required of all energy operators in Alberta. Also, it did not meet the mandatory reclamation spending targets the regulator set in 2022.

Earlier this year, British Columbia's regulator fined the company $40,000 for improperly managing gas wells, and Alberta fined it for failing to report its emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2024.

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Fossil fuel extraction has always been a hit and run, smash and grab operation.
Get the goods and get out - hide the proceeds, declare bankruptcy, strut off into the sunset whistling.

This element of capitalism has spread its poison throughout the capitalist corporate world. The State of Texas, home of the oil rig cowboys is now infamous for the Texas shuffle or Texas Two Step. Move your corporate headquarters to Texas, avail yourself of their thriving bankruptcy courts, and escape consequences scot free.

Leave your ugly mess behind for the rubes to suffer or clean up.

Needless to say, those in the Texas governments who enable these practices would never consider themselves rubes.

Can't remember how many polemics, debates, warnings or inquiries have been batted around in Alberta about oil well liabilities and how many scandals have erupted at the malfeasance around collecting monies for mandated clean-up funds. The oil industry has exploited every extortionate, blackmailing ploy to evade their legislated responsibilities, Globally, they have operated as literal robber barons for most of the 20th - and especially now in the 21st Century.

International economic forums must ultimately confront this epic failure, now, in the midst of the looming climate disaster. What will wild weather do to those abandoned rigs and derricks and the flimsy caps on land and undersea holding back the floods of toxic brews?