Orphan Well Levy

Every year the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) issues an Orphan Well Levy to energy companies operating oil and gas assets in the province. This levy is used to pay for the Orphan Well Association (OWA) to perform closure and reclamation for assets where the licensee energy company is bankrupt and financially unable to do so.  The Oil and Gas Conservation Act (Alberta) require that the levy be sufficient to cover the Orphan Well Association’s anticipated costs for the fiscal year and any deficiency from previous years. Despite this legal requirement, it is well known that the annual levy amount does match the funds needed to for abandonment, reclamation, and other closure work in the OWA inventory of orphaned assets.

This is an access to information project for the Clinic. Over the past several years, Clinic staff and students have filed numerous requests for records under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Alberta). Records produced by these requests, together with other relevant materials such as OWA annual reports, have been reviewed and considered by Clinic students. This research is intended to inform democratic dialogue on how the levy is set and develop recommendations for law reform.

This matter is ongoing.