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Why Angry Alberta Landowners Want To Cut Off Power To Oil Drilling Sites

An Alberta association of landowners who have oil and gas sites on their properties has called on its members to cut off power to drilling sites of companies that have failed to pay their compensation to landowners or have failed to clean up their sites.

The Action Surface Rights Association, which groups around 200 landowners in southern Alberta—the heart of Canada’s energy industry—is urging its members to respond to the industry’s inadequate handling of reclaiming oil and gas wells and the unpaid compensation to the landowners, The Canadian Press reports.

Most of the oil and gas wells in Canada are drilled on private property, and while property owners cannot deny access to drillers, they are entitled to compensation.

In view of the struggles of Alberta’s oil industry in recent years, some companies have stopped paying compensation to the landowners. Now the association of property owners is fighting back.

“Turn off the power and shut off the valves ... just like any landlord would change the locks for a tenant who does not pay,” Daryl Bennett of the Action Surface Rights Association urged the landowners, The Canadian Press reports.

The landowners are also angry with the industry’s track record of cleaning up well sites years and even decades after a company has stopped drilling at a site, Financial Post reported last month.

The Orphan Well Association (OWA), an industry-funded group that picks up the tab for decommissioning and cleaning up wells for companies that have gone bankrupt and can’t sell their assets, is trying to prioritize those wells that are considered a hazard for the public and environment, the association’s Lars DePauw told Financial Post’s Geoffrey Morgan.

As of November 1, 2019, there were 3,406 orphan wells for abandonment in Alberta, according to OWA data.

Landowners fear that thousands more wells could add to the orphan well list in view of the not-so-rosy outlook on Canada’s oil industry and that they may not get their compensations soon, if ever.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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