Alberta Municipal Affairs has advised all municipalities to inform residents of the following new regulations about abandoned wells. As of November 1, 2012 new provisions are in place to ensure abandoned wells are accommodated during future subdivision and development. After surface reclamation is complete and a certificate is issued by Alberta environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the well site lease notation may be removed from the title. At this point there is nothing visible on the surface or on the title to indicate the presence of an abandoned well.
Abandoned wells rarely require maintenance but adequate access to the site needs to be maintained should a leak occur. The abandoned well bore is not visible on the surface and therefore may represent a risk to excavation and construction equipment and safety of the equipment operator if abandoned wells are not properly located.
The risk to the public from an abandoned well is very low. Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) Directive 079: Subsurface Development in Proximity to Abandoned Wells sets out a minimum setback distance from the well that must be maintained between abandoned wells and development as well as requirements for accurately locating the abandoned well and verifying its integrity prior to development.
In summary, it is the responsibility of the developer or landowner of the proposed subdivision and/or development to take measures to identify any abandoned wells within that property and to apply the required setback as set out in the ERCB directive. These efforts will ensure that abandoned wells are appropriately identified and suitable setbacks are incorporated in the planning, development and construction decisions.
The full report is attached in the Document Links or a copy of the report can be obtained from the County office. Abandoned and Active oil and gas wells can be viewed by going onto the County's webmap and turning on the oil and gas tab.