Q: What does the reclamation process involve?
A: The typical process for reclamation is described below. This process can take a number of years to conduct, depending on the size of the impacts to the land. The exact activity and order will vary with each site.
- Phase 1 Assessment – The purpose of the Phase 1 Assessment is to identify any potential concerns that may warrant further investigation. The information available in government records for the well or facility is reviewed. The site is visited and the landowner and/or occupant interviewed. The Phase 1 may occur prior to well abandonment.
- Phase 2 Assessment – The subsurface conditions of the site may be investigated to determine if historical oil and gas activities have affected the soil or groundwater. An Electro Magnetic (EM) survey may be conducted first to assess subsurface conditions in a non-intrusive manner. Soil samples are collected either from hand digging or from drilling with a small auger or direct push rig. Monitoring wells (slotted plastic pipes) may be inserted into the ground to allow collection of groundwater samples. The soil and groundwater samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis. The Phase 2 Assessment can take a year or more to complete and may involve more than one round of soil or groundwater sampling.
- Remediation – If any soil and/or groundwater contamination is identified, it will be dealt with in accordance with AER and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) requirements. Soil affected by historical oil and gas activities may be removed and hauled to a landfill and then replaced with clean soil, or it may be treated onsite and then returned to the excavation once it meets AEP guidelines.
- Surface Reclamation – The disturbed land is then restored to equivalent land capability in accordance with AEP Reclamation Criteria. This typically involves recontouring the subsoil, replacing the topsoil, and re-establishing the vegetation. The vegetation is monitored until it meets the applicable Reclamation Criteria.
- Certification – Once the site meets the AEP Reclamation Criteria for landscape, soil and vegetation, the OWA will submit a Reclamation Certificate application to the AER on behalf of the defunct or insolvent operator.
Q: When will reclamation begin?
A: Reclamation generally begins once the well and all surface facilities have been abandoned and the site has been designated orphan for reclamation. Sites may not be designated orphan by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) for abandonment and reclamation at the same time. There may be a delay between when the site is abandoned and when the site is designated orphan for reclamation.
Q: Who can I talk to if I have questions about reclamation on my land?
A: If you have any questions or concerns about our activities, please contact us at (403) 297-6416 and ask to speak to an Environmental Coordinator.
Q: How do I get paid for the surface lease on my land.
A: The OWA receives the legal right of entry to conduct our work on orphans through the provincial government and not from a standard oil and gas company lease agreement with the landowner. The OWA is unable to compensate landowners for unpaid surface lease rentals from the defunct or insolvent company. If you would like to inquire about receiving lease payments for your land, please contact the Alberta Surface Rights Board (dial toll free 310-0000, then 780-427-2444 or visit www.surfacerights.gov.ab.ca).