Abandoned oil and gas wells and pipelines are a growing problem in Alberta and could eventually end up costing taxpayers and landowners up to $300 billion dollars to reclaim these abandoned wells. Some of the wells have been sitting for 40+ years. The D. Howe Institute (an independent not for profit research organization) estimates more than 155,000 Alberta energy wells have no economic potential and will eventually require reclamation.
In January 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that bankruptcy trustees must prioritize the clean up of abandoned oil and gas wells before paying back creditors. However in most cases, bankrupt organizations do not have sufficient funds to cover the cost of sealing up old wells and it remains a growing problem. Abandoned wells that are not reclaimed can leak and contaminate the land and farmers who own the land can be held liable.