AER and the courts (notably in Alberta) are paid by the citizenry but work for the rich and oil & gas, protecting/assisting companies that abuse us, our loved ones, homes and lands, and rape our aquifers and environment, get billions in subsidies from the citizenry and make us pay to clean up while taking billions of dollars in profits, paying near zero royalties and nothing for their toxic lies and pollution.
A little Hanky Panky History:
2020: Diana Daunheimer: “It’s clear, the UCP doesn’t give two cents about public health, environmental protection, liability management, property rights, industrial compliance, sustainable water management or emissions mitigation. The UCP are petrol molls, simple as that.”
2019: Another frac dust biter? Calgary-based Bellatrix Exploration Ltd. (of Diana Daunheimer lawsuit fame) seeks buyer as part of court-supervised restructuring. Given level of debt, no assurance creditors’ claims will be satisfied. When will courts order companies to “restructure” frac’d environments, families, lands, farms, waterways, aquifers, exploded water towers, etc?
… Diana Daunheimer Reply to @John Reed:
In the past four years alone, over $35 billion in subsidies to the industry have been implemented in Alberta. This does not include the fact that the industry pays almost no fees in enforcement fines, no money to public health or environmental damages, gets their water for free and gets to use our airsheds and land as dumping grounds for indsutry waste, also for free. They also have sweeping exemptions for carbon costs and a deduction scheme built into the MRR. The NDP decreased royalties to the lowest in the history of the province and subsidized more than any PC government and still the industry is incapable of staying solvent? I think it’s time to address what is wrong with their business model, not federal policies.
$26 billion to NWUpgrader, nearly one million per day is being paid by Albertans since June 2018, because the plant is not operational, but payments are due.
$2.6 billion to Keystone XL
$2 billion for upgrading bitumen
$1 billion plus for petrochemical startups
$1.6 billion average per year in Crown Royalty Reductions
$1 billion in emerging/marginal plays, MRR RMC carbon cost deductions and other incentive programs
$1+ billion for bitumen rail cars
$400 million in CCIR payments for innovation
$235 million for OWF
$50 million for Education Property Tax relief resulting from oil and gas linear defaults
$400+ million from AIMCO for funding nearly insolvent operators such as Calfrac and Perpetual
$160 million/year for otherwise flared solution gas royalty reduction
$250,000 per facility, per year for methane emissions reductions
$1 million just announced in clear fuel exemptions for drilling
$60-260 billion in unsecured oil, gas, bitumen and coal liabilities and over $9 billion in oil and gas debt held by ATB
Meanwhile Norway’s “Oil Fund” surpasses 1 trillion! And It’s dumping it’s “oil stocks”
You can bet conservative governments won’t have the backbone to tax oil companies. And they call this good fiscal management.
How can you write an article on this issue Mr. Bakx, yet fail to mention the Property Education Requistion Credit (PERC) program, implemented by the NDP, in response to delinquent oil and gas operators? Is it that readers would be even more outraged to learn that up to $50 million dollars is being taken from the Education Tax Fund, to compensate municipalities for their losses?
As for CAPP, Canadians should lobby to have them abolished. Industry operators do not have sufficient funding to pay for municipal taxes, surface lease payments, or for their hundreds of billions in liable assets, but can still afford to pay $4.64 per boe for membership with CAPP? Not to mention the tens of millions more each year, supporting an additional 200 industry groups, controlled oppostion eNGOs (examples, Pembina and Alberta EcoTrust) and the complex network of Synergy Alberta members. Governments should mandate that industry funding spent on lobbying, synergy and disingeneous stakeholder relations, is directed towards defaults and liabilties…instead of taking it from our children’s education fund.
Additional measures that need immediate attention:
Implement enforced timelines for reclamation and remediation of inactive and abandoned assets.
Increase the contributions to the OWF to a minimum of $100 million per year.
Update the AER LLR program to reflect true cost of liabilites and true value of assets and
prohibit the sale, transfer or licensing approvals to any operator with an LLR rating under 2.0.
Rewrite REDA so that the AER has a public interest and public health mandate, and are legally responsible for their regulatory actions or inactions.
Maybe crack down on the number of wholly owned subsidiaries operators use in the Bahamas etc, as tax havens.
Reply to @Diana Daunheimer: Two thumbs up! Network should have you write the article, not this little avocado toast eating ,Uber riding credit karma kid.
….Absolutely, the NDP capitalized on voter disdain for the status quo and created a platform of promises they likely never meant to keep regarding the industry in Alberta. Notley assured “fair share” of publically owned resources, a review of the mandate of the AER, increased environmental monitoring, a review of fracking and urban drilling and a robust climate plan.
Instead, once elected Notley decreased royalties to a historic low, quietly endorsed the AER which operates with no public interest or public health mandate, used backbenchers to push the review of fracking off the NDP AGM agenda, completely ignored urban drilling and the impacts resulting from, such as the 4.6 induced seismic event from fracking south of Red Deer, and gave the province a greenwashed climate plan and fraudulent fuel tax, dressed up as a carbon levy, along with sweeping exemptions, allowances, deductions and incentives for industry, resulting in no meaningful emissions reductions to date.
As I previously wrote to Notley, it’s remorseful how her government handled the energy industry in the province and perhaps it will weigh on their conscience as they witness the continued degradation of the environment and fiscal sustainability in the province. Expect their virtues to come raging back as leaders of the opposition, but don’t expect to see any material action. The NDP have proven to be the status quo and them some.
So let me get this straight.
We subsidize the industry for billions each year.
Offer the oil and resources for virtually free
They drill wherever they want, with ability to move onto anyone’s land.
The wells that are not profitable, they simple abandon in numbered companies, and walk away from the environmental disaster, leaving Canadians on the hook to pay upwards of 70 billion.
The wells that are profitable, they sit back and rake in the dough, but don’t pay taxes or land owners.
Norway has a much better model !
Reply to @Bob Johnson: You pretty much nailed it.
2017: “Unconscionable!” Diana Daunheimer on Rachel Notley’s NDP giving $50 Million from education taxes paid by Albertans to municipalities to cover oil & gas companies not paying their taxes (after years of massive profit taking)
2015: What frac fraud now? Fraser Institute joining Dr. Maurice Dusseault; Dr. David Wheeler; Dr. John Cherry & Council of Canadian Academies Frac Panel; charter-violating, no-duty-of-care, lying, bullying, worst-in-class, legally immune AER; Alberta government; U Penn law/political science prof Cary Goglianese & Synergy Alberta; Encana; Bellatrix; Angle Energy; Frac contaminating water confessing CAPP; other enablers in cycle of frac abuse? Why so many enablers? Scared of the Supreme Court without Harper slaying justice?
2015: Ian Jessop Interviews Diana Daunheimer on nasty attempt by Bellatrix/Angle Energy to kill her frac lawsuit demanding $33,000 Security of Costs and more, to pay the company’s legal fees upfront, before trial!
… Flared or vented frack gases are a great worry for Albertans like Diana Daunheimer. Frackers are only obliged to monitor their gaseous waste stream for hydrogen sulfide and small hydrocarbons like methane, ethane and propane. The more toxic “BTEXs” – benzene, toluene, xylene and their aldehydes – go unreported. Daunheimer and her two children have suffered a host of health problems that may well have arisen from exposure to these.
… Into the courts
Well-water quality is another concern for Albertans living in the vicinity of fracking operations. Leaks arise in the layers of casing surrounding well bores, critics argue, and gases and liquids can migrate through these into the surrounding water table. Rosebud, Alberta landowner Jessica Ernst launched a $33 million (22 million euros) lawsuit against energy giant Encana Energy, the Alberta provincial government and the Alberta Energy Regulator for an incident of this sort, in which fracked methane migrated into her well water, rendering it flammable (an Alberta provincial judge ruled late last year that the AER is immune from prosecution).
Meanwhile, Diana Daunheimer has launched a suit of her own. She is seeking $13 million from the Calgary-based Bellatrix Corporation for violating provincial fracking guidelines and endangering her family’s health. … Daunheimer’s claim has rattled nerves. Late last year, the company that fracked around her home sold out to Bellatrix Exploration. A week later, Bellatrix offered Daunheimer $50,000 to settle out-of-court. She declined. Bellatrix’s defense statement is due in court on February 7.
With a goal to counter increasing media attention on the potential dangers of horizontal fracking, Calgary-based Angle Energy Inc. resumed its own aggressive public relations campaign last week with an open house and dinner for dozens of county residents and stakeholders. … “There are no fears. It is safe. When there are that many miles down it is not hurting us,”…. The issue came to full public attention last January when an oil well blowout from a hydraulic fracking operation on a farmer’s field west of Innisfail resulted in the messy release of fracturing fluid and…crude oil.
Comment on article below by Good Canuck:
As always. The taxpayers have to clean up after big oil
‘Blindsided’: Alberta farmers fret as regulator eyes moving bankrupt company’s idle oil wells to new insolvent firm, Ongoing pattern of companies trading environmental liabilities rather than cleaning up after themselves by Geoffrey Morgan, Sep 22, 2021, Financial Post
Chris Campmans was “blindsided” to learn that an old well site on his land near Picture Butte, Alta., could soon be transferred from one insolvent Calgary oil and gas company to another. The dairy farmer thought the well had long been cleaned up and remediated — in fact, he grows feed for his cattle where the well used to be.
“My concern is that if there ever was a leak, these people are avoiding environmental liabilities,” Campmans said, adding that he filed a statement of concern with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) over the proposed transaction, arranged by the monitor overseeing the insolvency of Bellatrix Exploration Ltd., to move 88 wells and facilities to a numbered company, which is also bound for insolvency. The deal raises an unusual question in Alberta’s energy and agricultural industries: when is a well truly and fully remediated? Campmans said he was not aware that energy companies in the province are responsible for a well for 25 years 25 years is nothing! Chat with those harmed by leaking sour gas and or methane in Jarvis, Norfolk, and Wheatley etc. in Ontario! after the Alberta government issues a reclamation certificate, verifying the well has been cleaned up. The Financial Post contacted half a dozen other farmers whose land is subject to the transaction, none of whom knew they had a quarter of a century to raise concerns about the impacts on their land.
But the deal between Bellatrix and the numbered company also raises concerns about a murky practice in the corners of the oilpatch. Companies have been using the bankruptcy process to separate their profitable assets from their unprofitable ones, dumping the old and unwanted wells in a shell company bound for bankruptcy, which more often than not causes the wells to end up in the care of the Orphan Well Association (OWA).“Our philosophy which does nothing to stop negligent Alberta whining pathetically, begging and getting billions of dollars from ordinary Canadians to pay to clean up and does nothing to stop contract-violating companies from refusing to pay rent and damages to landowners and taxes to municipalities all happily enabled by UCP/AER on any transaction is that the risk needs to be borne by the parties involved in that transaction and not by the collective,” said OWA president Lars De Pauw, whose industry and mostly taxpayer funded organization cleans up and remediates wells for which there is no responsible owner. “Individual companies should not benefit at the detriment of the collective.”
De Pauw said the OWA is aware of the Bellatrix deal but hasn’t taken a formal position on the transaction. Defunct oil and gas companies have swamped the OWA in recent years by dropping the responsibility for cleaning up thousands of wells on the association, which has required government funding to work through the backlog and also sparked new regulations and rules from the province and the AER.
In 2019, the AER won a case at the Supreme Court of Canada to prevent the trustee of bankrupt Redwater Energy Corp. from disclaiming the responsibility for cleaning up inactive oil and gas wells. The country’s top court ruled that Redwater Energy could not drop its environmental liabilities, and that bankruptcy obligations to creditors do not trump environmental responsibilities. Judicial propaganda case intentionally brought by AER to bamboozle Canadians being forced to pay to clean up after billion dollar profit taking companies finish their rape & pillage? What good did the Redwater ruling do? Nothing but make Canadians think companies are cleaning up. They are not. Companies and “regulators” do what they want in Canada, the rule of law is theirs to piss on. Besides, Canada’s Supreme Court lost any credibility it had when it knowingly lied in their ruling in Ernst vs AER, including the lie in the court’s summary to the media, which the media published. Harper’s court – 7/9 judges were appointed by his gov’t – let AER get away with violating my Charter rights.
Given the recent history, landowners are upset the AER is considering the Bellatrix deal, given the parties have sworn affidavits that the new company will also be insolvent, regardless of whether or not the wells in question have been cleaned up. “As part of the implementation of the proposed transaction, NewCo (the new, unnumbered company) will assume all of the excluded liabilities, which will substantially exceed $5 million, and will be insolvent,” Bellatrix chief financial officer Shane Abel swore in an affidavit June 6 detailing the transaction.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc., the court-appointed monitor for Bellatrix in the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) proceedings, did not respond to a request for comment on the deal, which has drawn concerns from a range of energy executives, landowners and municipalities.
“Why would they even contemplate giving the wells to that company? It just doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Brian Peers, director of municipal lands planning and development for Taber, Alta., a municipality in the southern part of the province that is home to three of the Bellatrix well sites in question.
In 2018, Taber dealt with a similar problem when Manitok Energy Inc. transferred uneconomic wells and facilities to Tantalus Energy Corp. and profitable assets to Persist Oil & Gas Inc. Both Manitok and Tantalus filed for bankruptcy protection shortly thereafter. The Tantalus assets ended up with the OWA, while Persist Energy continues to operate as a private company.
“The AER knows it’s going on, but they’re unwilling to step in and change it,” Peers said, adding that he’s frustrated to see an ongoing pattern of companies trading environmental liabilities rather than cleaning up after themselves. “The province, the landowners and the municipalities are left holding the bag,” he said.
In addition, the AER’s Directive 6 normally prevents the transfer of reclaimed wells and facilities from one company to another, perplexing landowners about why reclaimed well sites are the subject of a transaction in the first place. “It seems odd to me that they would be applying to transfer re-certified wells. I have never heard of that before,” Peers said.
The AER initially provided an accelerated timeline for approving the deal that gave landowners just eight business days to file statements of concern about the Bellatrix deal. But after a slew of complaints — farmers are busy with harvest season for sugar beets, corn and potatoes — the AER adjusted its timeframe to 20 business days. The regulator is now set to make a decision on the transfer by Sept. 26.
“The AER has not made a decision on the applications — all related applications are still under review. The AER considers all application outcomes and weighs associated risks to the public and Orphan Well Association as part of the review,” spokesperson Ottilie Coldbeck said in an emailed statement.
The Bellatrix transaction is unique when compared with the Redwater and Tantalus deals because the 88 Bellatrix wells have all been remediated and reclamation certificates have been issued.
However, landowners and legal experts say those differences are superficial because the well sites still carry potential environmental liabilities for decades to come. In addition, the remediation work on those sites is frequently insufficient when the work is audited by the AER.
… Last year, the AER caught CEPro Energy and Environmental Services submitting falsified reclamation documents for wells in southern Alberta, which claimed the wells had been properly remediated when, in fact, derelict equipment continued to dot the landscape.
… The AER declined to answer Financial Post questions on whether it had inspected or audited the reclamation work on the 88 Bellatrix wells that are subject to the transfer request.
After the Post inquired about an audit, landowners reported that their wells were no longer listed as “reclaimed” in the provincial system, but as “abandoned,” which means they have been plugged but the clean-up work has not been certified.
Coldbeck at the AER said the well statuses were changed “to accommodate a system limitation” and added that “the status of all associated licences will return to pre-application status after the AER makes a decision on the application.”
Last summer, the Alberta government revamped rules for oil and gas environmental liabilities in an effort to prevent companies from dumping their reclamation obligations on the OWA and the taxpayers.The province declined to comment on whether additional rules are necessary given the Bellatrix case, but said the details of those rules are still being implemented at the AER.
“Administered by the AER, a new holistic licensee assessment system will help to accurately assess the capabilities of operators to meet their regulatory obligations, and to ensure that companies do not offload liabilities,” Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in an emailed statement. “This, along with the other parts of the framework, will better protect Albertans from the risks of insolvency in the upstream oil and gas industry.” I read nothing truthful in this paragraph except the name of the minister.
The country’s largest lying oil and gas industry group declined to comment on the case but re-iterated its support for the recent overhaul of well liabilities in the province that was announced in July 2020.“ Reducing environmental liabilities is a priority for the oil and natural gas industry and this initiative (government funding for the clean up of old wells and a new well remediation framework) allows important work to accelerate, helping businesses survive and be part of the economic recovery,” Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers spokesperson Jay Averill said in an emailed statement.
Last year, Ottawa provided $2.4 billion to clean up old oil and gas wells in Western Canada, leading to a surge in well reclamation activity.
Thousands of An embarrasingly few wells are being cleaned up, but the Bellatrix case shows that plugging wells and cleaning up the surrounding area is not the end of the oil and gas industry’s obligations to the environment.
“From the landowners perspective, they go and have a look and the fence is gone and the grass is growing, but they don’t know the difference between a good reclaimed well from a poor one as long as their cows are happy,” Peers said in Taber. “As long as they’re growing a crop, they don’t know what’s underneath the ground. Is there a sump pit or whatever from drilling?”