Alberta issues 97% of reclamation certificates without ever visiting oil and gas sites

Alberta oil well
Workers at an orphaned oil well in Alberta, which must be sealed and remediated before being issued a reclamation certificate. Photo: Government of Alberta / Flickr

Documents obtained by The Narwhal reveal that, for the last four years data is available, 2014 – 2018, less than three per cent of oil and gas sites certified as reclaimed have been visited by an inspector from the provincial regulator — a far cry from the 15 per cent the public has been long told.

The data — accessed through a lengthy back-and-forth with the Alberta Energy Regulator’s media team and freedom of information office — shows that since the spring of 2014, more than 9,400 reclamation certificates have been issued, but during that same time period, just 277 sites were actually visited by the regulator for an audit.

This means the vast majority of oil and gas sites are certified as reclaimed without any independent physical assessment by the regulator — and most reclamation certificates are granted by an automated system.

This wasn’t always the plan. MORE


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