Faq General

In the upstream oil and gas industry, an orphan is a well, pipeline, facility or associated site which has been investigated and confirmed as not having any legally responsible and/or financially able party to deal with its abandonment and reclamation responsibilities.

The AER first investigates possible orphans for responsible parties before designating individual properties (wells, pipelines, facilities or sites) as orphans. If you have any questions or concerns about possible orphans, please contact the AER Customer Contact Centre Toll Free 1-855-297-8311.

The Orphan Well Association or OWA is a non-profit organization unique to the province of Alberta which was created from the work of many genuinely concerned individuals from our oil and gas industry and from our provincial government.

The OWA operates under the delegated legal authority of the Alberta Energy Regulator or AER, the provincial regulator of the oil and gas industry. We operate financially and legally separate from the AER.

The OWA prepares an annual report (available on our website under the About tab) to provide information on our activities each year to all stakeholders including industry and the public.

The OWA's funds come from a variety of sources but primarily funds have been provided through the annual Orphan Fund Levy which is paid by oil and gas industry in Alberta. The Levy is based on estimated abandonment and reclamation activities for the upcoming fiscal year. The Orphan Fund Levy is set by the AER in consultation with the OWA, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC).

The AER allocates the Orphan Fund Levy to each licensee (oil and gas producers) in Alberta based on each licensee's proportionate share of deemed industry liabilities as determined through the AER's Licensee Liability Rating Program and the Oilfield Waste Liability Program.

More information on Levy:


The OWA also receives funds collected by the AER through First Time Licensee and Regulator Directed Transfer Fees which are paid by oil and gas producers.

In addition, the Alberta Government announced in May 2017 that it would lend the OWA $235 million. The interest on this loan is being covered by a $30 million grant from the Government of Canada. The first loan advance to the OWA was in 2018, and the last advance will be in 2020. The $235 million loan will be repaid by the oil and gas industry through the annual Orphan Fund Levy starting in 2019, with the last repayment occurring in 2027.

The Orphan Well Association (OWA) is unable to compensate landowners for unpaid surface lease payments from a defunct or insolvent company. If you have any questions about applying to receive lease payments for your land, we encourage you to contact the Alberta Surface Rights Board (dial toll free 310-0000, then 780-427-2444 or visit (www.surfacerights.gov.ab.ca)

The OWA requires files to be sorted in the boxes and the boxes clearly labelled with contents by well files, surface land files and engineering/pipeline/environment files. Please do not send mineral lease files, correspondence files or contract files. A list of the box contents is requested whenever it is available.

Parties delivering file boxes are responsible for the arrangements and costs of delivery and must contact the OWA first to make arrangements for the OWA to receive them.

Once arrangements are made to receive boxes, they can be brought to the loading dock of Bankers Court, where an OWA representative will meet the courier to facilitate delivery of the files to the OWA storage area in the building. The loading dock is accessed from the north side of the building via the alley.

Thank you
Orphan Well Association
(403) 297-6416

Faq Contractor

The OWA is participating in the AER's Area Based Closure program through OneStop.

The OWA does not have a vendor list. We have selected Prime Contractors who execute our work in the field.

For more information on how to work with the OWA, visit Request for Information.

To see a list of our prime contractors, please click here.