The Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal on whether oil companies should be able to escape cleaning up their abandoned oil wells after filing for bankruptcy.
In May of 2016, an Alberta Queen’s Bench judge ruled that the proceeds from the sale of assets from bankrupt energy companies should first go to creditors, instead of towards cleaning up the companies mess.
Many companies avoid cleaning up wells because of the financial cost involved, leading to millions of dollars in orphaned wells spread across Canada.
Many hope the Supreme Court of Canada will reverse the decision, and make companies clean up after themselves, whatever the cost may be.
The Alberta Energy Regulator is anticipating the court’s decision.
Regulator head Jim Ellis said “We are looking forward to presenting our arguments and are optimistic we may convince the Supreme Court to reverse the lower courts’ decisions,” and that the current legislation allows owners of industrial facilities to walk away form their environmental responsibilities.
Since the original ruling in April 2016, about 1600 oil and gas sites have been abandoned with estimated liabilities of more than 100 million dollars.