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AER turns to Supreme Court on well abandonment ruling

2016 decision ruled assets from bankrupt energy companies should go first to creditors, not to cleaning up abandoned oil wells.


CALGARY — Alberta’s energy regulator wants the Supreme Court of Canada to have another look at a ruling that could allow energy companies to walk away from cleaning up abandoned oil wells.

The regulator has formally applied to the top court for leave to appeal the so-called Redwater decision.

That 2016 Queen’s Bench decision ruled that the sale of assets from bankrupt energy companies should go first to creditors, not to cleaning up the mess from the company’s operations.

That decision was recently upheld by the Alberta Court of Appeal, which found federal bankruptcy laws trump provincial environmental rules.

The Alberta Energy Regulator argues that will encourage more operators to abandon unprofitable wells.

Their request for appeal is backed by farmers and Indigenous groups, as well as the provinces of BC and Saskatchewan.

The regulator notes its inventory of abandoned wells has more than doubled since the Redwater decision.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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