June 30, 2022
Oil and gas activity can have a wide range of impacts on natural ecosystems, from the initial exploration stage, through development, production and decommissioning of infrastructure.
Oil and gas wells, pumping stations, roads, pipelines and collecting systems all have a substantial footprint, and so a clear and open lifetime planning system is vital to ensure avoidance of sensitive ecosystems.
According to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, oil and gas well reclamation is progressing at a much slower rate than well abandonment. This is resulting in a buildup of uncertified wells. On average, between 2002 and 2011, 14,227 wells were drilled per year, 4,111 were abandoned and 1,682 certified. This indicates that over the last 10 years, the certification rate has been approximately 40.9 per cent of the abandonment rate (Oil and Gas Reclamation, Alberta ESRD, March 2012)
Alberta Wilderness Association believes that hydrocarbon exploration and development should be regulated in a manner that is consistent with the maintenance of wilderness values. There is a fundamental need for the maintenance of wilderness that is free of industrial incursion. Outside of such areas, exploration and development must be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.
In February, AWA learned that Alberta-based Seven Generations Energy was the first Canadian natural gas producer to receive Equitable Origins’ (EO) certification to the EO100 standard. AWA has since engaged with Equitable Origins certifiers to support a sound application of the biodiversity provisions of their oil and gas certification, which we believe could help improve energy industry land-use practices. Since June, AWA has engaged directly with Seven Generations Energy around biodiversity concerns and opportunities in its Kakwa region lease holdings.
In early April, AWA voiced concerns about Alberta’s March 31 decision to suspend most energy industry environmental compliance reporting requirements. We were unconvinced that this was a pandemic safety-related measure since all data gathering and record-keeping requirements remained. We joined First Nations and other ENGOs in raising concerns when Alberta further suspended most environmental monitoring requirements in late April and early May; this occurred at a time when other economic activities were re-opening with pandemic safety measures in place. Although reporting and monitoring resumed in July 2020, AWA remains concerned about the interruption of compliance reporting and loss of data collection without transparent justification.