From The Province of Alberta
Creating jobs, accelerating well cleanup
A government loan to the Orphan Well Association (OWA) will spur the creation of hundreds of green jobs and reduce the number of orphaned wells across Alberta.
As the first step in A Blueprint for Jobs, the province is extending its loan to the OWA by up to $100 million. This loan will bolster the association’s immediate reclamation efforts and generate up to 500 direct and indirect jobs in the oil services sector.
“Today’s investment is part of our Blueprint for Jobs. This taxpayer investment will create good-paying jobs while improving the environment. Actions like this will help to get Alberta back to work.”
“We are getting Albertans back to work while staying true to our province’s reputation as a responsible resource developer. This loan will increase economic activity across our province and is an important step in addressing the pressing issue of oil and gas liabilities – particularly in rural Alberta.”
“By staying on top of the orphaned well inventory, we’re helping to ensure a sustainable energy industry in Alberta. The Orphan Well Association continues to increase our efficiencies while also increasing the number of sites we are addressing. This loan will help us further these efforts while helping Alberta’s service sector and reducing the impact on affected landowners.”
Government and the OWA are currently finalizing specific loan terms and conditions, including establishing a repayment schedule. Both parties have agreed that this investment will be completed before April 1, 2021.
The Blueprint for Jobs is a plan to bring jobs and investment back to Alberta and restore the province’s position as the best place in the country to live, work, start a business, and raise a family. The Government of Alberta is focused on creating jobs, growing the economy and getting Alberta back to work.
- The loan extension will enable the OWA to:
- decommission approximately 1,000 wells
- start more than 1,000 environmental site assessments for reclamation
- The Alberta government previously provided the OWA with a $235 million interest-free loan. The OWA began repaying the loan in 2019, using money received from industry through the annual Orphan Fund Levy.
- In the coming weeks, government will be introducing a full suite of products, covering the entire lifecycle of wells from start to finish.
About the Orphan Well Association
The Orphan Well Association is an independent non-profit organization that operates under the delegated legal authority of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The mandate of the OWA is to safely decommission orphan oil and gas wells, pipelines and production facilities, and restore the land as close to its original state as possible. Funding for the OWA comes primarily from the upstream oil and gas industry, through annual levies administered by the AER.
Inactive well: A well that has not been used for production, injection, or disposal for a specified amount of time – six months for high-risk wells, or 12 months for medium- and low- risk wells.
Orphan: A well, pipeline, or facility that does not have any legally responsible and/or financially able party to conduct abandonment and reclamation responsibilities.
Abandoned well: A well that is no longer needed to support oil and gas development and is permanently plugged, cut and capped according to Alberta Energy Regulator requirements.
Reclamation: The process of returning the site, as close as possible, to a state that’s equivalent to before it was disturbed. Companies are responsible for reclamation liability for 25 years, after which the liability reverts to the Crown.
Calgary man who admitted to participating in terrorism activity to be sentenced
CALGARY — A man who admitted to terrorism-related acts with the militant group Islamic State is to be sentenced today in a Calgary courtroom.
Hussein Borhot, who is 36, has pleaded guilty to one count of participating in terrorism group activity between May 9, 2013, and June 7, 2014, as well as to kidnapping for a terrorist group while in Syria.
RCMP arrested him in July 2020 after a seven-year investigation.
An agreed statement of facts read in court last month said Borhot travelled to Syria through Turkey to join the Islamic State.
The statement said he signed up as a fighter, received substantial training and excelled as a sniper, but did not tell his wife or father before the trip.
Court heard that Borhot revealed much of the information to an undercover officer after he returned to Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access
OTTAWA — The British foreign secretary has often been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It started eight years ago when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her party’s annual conference.
“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That is a disgrace.”
Now Truss is facing another battle over cheese, this time with Canada.
Britain wants greater access to Canadian markets for more than 700 varieties of cheese including Stilton, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, a crumbly variety originating from Yorkshire.
But Ottawa has made it clear it does not want to see more British cheddar, let alone artisan varieties such as stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop, on Canadian fridge shelves.
During the first round of negotiations of the U.K.-Canada trade deal, Canada told Britain that a larger quota for British cheese is not on the negotiating table.
When it was a European Union member, Britain was part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, giving it some access to Canada’s cheese market.
After the U.K. left the EU, a “continuity agreement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to maintain the CETA arrangement until a bilateral trade deal could be struck.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K., said if Britain wants more access to Canadian markets for its cheese as part of a bilateral free-trade agreement, it will have to knock on Brussels’ door and get its part of the dairy quota back.
“The point is we have already provided that volume in the EU deal and the British left it there without taking it with them,” he said in an interview. “That’s an issue they need to resolve with the Europeans because the Europeans have their quota.”
Goodale said the U.K.’s request for extra access for British cheese — on top of the access given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators consider to be pretty much a dead end.”
“You are talking about a double concession — one we have already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.K. for yet another one on top of that,” he said.
The high commissioner said Canada values its trading relationship with the U.K., adding that he is confident that a mutually-beneficial trade deal will be reached.
But if Canada allows the British to export more of their cheese it would involve “a major commitment of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for lost incomes.
In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement gave the U.S. fresh access to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.
Canada’s dairy industry was worth over $7 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s annual report.
There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with an average of 92 cows per farm, it said.
Until at least the end of next year, Britain will be able to keep exporting its cheese to Canada under the trade continuity agreement, the U.K.’s trade department said.
This allows U.K. cheese exporters to access the Canadian market tariff-free under the EU portion of Canada’s World Trade Organization cheese tariff rate quota.
As part of the 1995 WTO agreement on agriculture, Canada established tariff rate quotas for cheese and other dairy products. The quotas set out quantities of dairy that could enter Canada with little or no duty.
For Britain, a fully fledged free trade deal with Canada is crucial after Brexit left it looking for fresh tariff-free markets.
“We want to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement with Canada that will strengthen our close and historic bilateral trade relationship,” said a U.K. government trade spokesman in a statement, adding the relationship was worth about $34.5 billion in 2021.
In March, U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had officially begun.
In a speech in the House of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress in the talks, saying that “both sides are optimistic that, as good as CETA and the continuity agreement were, we can do better still when Canada and the U.K. negotiate a deal face-to-face, directly with each other.”
Like Goodale, Ng said Canada is confident a free-trade deal with Britain will be reached, enhancing co-operation in a number of areas, including on renewables, sustainability and the digital economy.
“Canada values the relationship with the United Kingdom. They are … an important trading partner and a trade agreement with the U.K. will be very good for Canadian businesses,” she said in a phone interview from Thailand last weekend.
But she was also firm about the need to protect Canada’s dairy producers, and that means keeping more British cheese out.
“I have been very clear, our government has been very clear, that we will not provide access to our supply-managed sector,” she said. “We have been clear about that from the get-go.”
The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 varieties of cheese, including ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, as well as the cheese curds used in the Québécois dish poutine.
At least half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is home to a number of artisan varieties including bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a popular semi-soft rind cheese.
Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he will fiercely protect Canadian cheese from British interlopers.
Lampron said he had “validated that the issue of access to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of these trade talks.”
Canada’s protectionist stance toward its dairy industry may have pleased farmers. But it has caused some tension with close allies.
Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a formal trade dispute against Canada, accusing the federal government of breaking promises to give access for dairy imports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The Biden administration also recently said it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review a trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press
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