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Orphan sites are wells, facilities, pipelines and associated areas where an oil and gas company is declared bankrupt, or cannot be located.

An orphan site designation gives the Commission the option of using the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund (OSRF) to decommission and clean up the site. This provides assurance the site will be restored in accordance with current standards and requirements, and all known contamination risks or hazards have been addressed.

The OSRF is a levy on industry permit holders used to pay the cost of restoring orphan sites in B.C. If you have questions about this fund, email: orphanrestoration@bcogc.ca.

Our Orphan Restoration Goals

To meet the Commission’s mission of protecting public safety and the environment, we plan to deactivate pipelines and abandon high priority wells within one year of orphan designation. This ensures the orphans are in a safe state while we plan large area-based decommissioning and restoration programs to maximize efficiencies and rates of closure. We’re aiming to complete restoration work within 10 years of an orphan’s designation.

Understanding the Orphan Site Restoration Process

6 step resto
  1. Deactivation: The first step addresses risk by ensuring all wells, facilities, and pipelines are shut in, storage tanks are drained, and pipelines and facility piping is purged, depressurized, and isolated.
  2. Well Decommissioning: Part of the closure process involves plugging (downhole abandonment) and cut and cap activities (surface abandonment) to ensure orphan wells are properly decommissioned. This includes the permanent plugging of the producing zone(s) and isolating porous formations within a well, which prevents production fluid and gases from traveling up the wellbore to the surface or between formations.
  3. Site Decommissioning: The safe removal and disposal of associated operating equipment is completed prior to concluding any intrusive soil and/or groundwater quality assessments. Decommissioning activities also include the removal of all facility flow lines, piles, concrete, and debris on site. Deactivated pipelines are removed to the site's boundary or to a depth suitable to not impede land use, and are cut and capped below grade.
  4. Investigation: During this phase the site undergoes intrusive soil and/or groundwater sampling to confirm if the soil, surface, and groundwater quality meets the standards for final land use, or the site does not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. Investigation at each site is subject to areas of potential environmental concern identified during a historical file review. Results of the investigation determine if the site is suitable for closure or if remediation is required.
  5. Remediation: If a site investigation found contamination, remediation is required prior to moving to reclamation. This stage may include the removal and transport of contaminated soil (source) to a licensed facility for disposal and/or treatment of the soil, and/or groundwater, to reduce contaminants to concentrations less than the applicable provincial standards. Investigation and remediation activities must be overseen by a practicing professional.
  6. Reclamation: In the final phase of site restoration a site is reclaimed to meet appropriate land use productivity standards. Surface reclamation commonly includes surface contouring, topsoil replacement, revegetation, and monitoring to return the site to acceptable pre-disturbance conditions.

Map of Orphan Sites

Click here to see the ArcGIS map with full functionality.

Orphan Site Restoration and Time-lapse Videos

Orphan Site Management Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a permit holder becomes insolvent or cannot be located?

The Commission may choose to designate these sites as “orphans”. The designation allows site clean-up and restoration work to be overseen by the Commission. The work is paid for from the industry-funded Orphan Site Restoration Fund.


How many orphan sites is the Commission responsible for?

Please visit ‘Resources’ on the Orphan Sites homepage for a list of current orphans and their restoration status.


What is the process for restoration work? What happens first and when?

The Commission’s first priority is to ensure pipelines and other infrastructure are deactivated and left in a safe state, and high-priority wells are abandoned. We then work to prioritize large-scale area-based decommissioning programs. As wells are abandoned and equipment is removed from sites, we can focus on delivering restoration programs to return agricultural land and forested areas to an acceptable state.


How do you prioritize which sites are restored first?

The Commission plans and executes work on orphan sites based on consideration of relevant factors, including safety, protection of the environment, local needs, and efficient use of equipment and other resources required to restore sites.


How long to return the land back to where it was before the oil and gas activity?

Restoration of orphan sites, including all decommissioning, soil replacement, and planting, may take 10 years. However, many sites may be completed much sooner.


How can you guarantee there will be enough money in the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund?

In April 2019 the Commission implemented a levy to collect $15 million per year from industry to ensure the timely restoration of orphan sites. The Commission tracks and reviews the levy to ensure that we can meet our timely goals for restoration. The Commission has a comprehensive plan to ensure risks on orphan sites are prioritized for immediate attention, and once risks are addressed, we implement large, area-based decommissioning and restoration programs for timely closure.


Who at the Commission can I contact if I have further questions related to orphan sites?

Please send email inquiries to OrphanRestoration@bcogc.ca, or call the main line at 250-794-5200 and ask to be transferred to a member of the Orphan Restoration Team.

I have one (or more) orphan site(s) on my property, what happens next?

The Commission will communicate with affected land owners to outline the compensation processes and what to expect as we carry out the restoration of the site(s).


If a solvent operator acquires a well/site (located on my land) formerly owned by an insolvent operator, what happens next?

A land owner can expect communications from the new company. Authority for right of entry and rental payments for these sites is under the purview of the Surface Rights Board, and land owners are encouraged to contact the Board if they have not heard from the new company within a reasonable period of time.


Will I be able to plant crops on the site again, will the soil be safe? What about sites within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)?

The Commission’s Certificate of Restoration process ensures the environmental quality of soil and groundwater meets acceptable standards before soils are replaced and seeding occurs. We also implement requirements for soil quality and quantity for land in the ALR in accordance with an agreement with the Agricultural Land Commission.


What do I do if I receive notification of outstanding property taxes on the oil and gas site?

Land owners are not responsible for property taxes that pertain to oil and gas infrastructure on their land. Land owners should not pay taxes that are the responsibility of oil and gas operators and should communicate the error to the issuer.


What if I cannot receive financing from the bank because there is a lien on my property?

If a lien has been placed on oil and gas infrastructure on a land owner’s property, it is not the responsibility of the land owner. Land owners should contact the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation for further information.

After a site is designated an orphan will I continue to receive rental payments? And who will pay?

When a site has been designated an orphan and the land owner is no longer receiving rental payments from the previous permit holder under the surface lease agreement, the Commission may, under section 46 of the Oil and Gas Activities Act, provide compensation to a land owner that is owed rental payments for an orphan site.

For more information on compensation and how to apply, visit the Land Owners and Compensation webpage under "Land Owners" on the Orphan Sites homepage. If you have additional questions, you may wish to review the following FAQs.


Can I apply for outstanding rental back payments from an insolvent permit holder?

An application for compensation for outstanding rental payments will be considered, for the period before an orphan site was designated, if the land owner submits proof of a lease agreement and a Surface Rights Board Order for missed rental payments.

For more information on compensation and how to apply, visit the Land Owners and Compensation webpage under "Land Owners" on the Orphan Sites homepage.


What is the difference between what the Surface Rights Board (SRB) can do and what the Commission can do with respect to compensation for overdue orphan site rental payments?

The SRB may make a payment order against a permit holder or former permit holder with interest (which may be enforced like a court order with collection options), and sometimes may administer a security fund to satisfy payment. The Commission may make payment (without interest) under section 46 of OGAA from the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund administered by the Commission.


If I choose to apply to the Surface Rights Board (SRB), will the Commission also consider my application for compensation?

Yes. After issuing a payment order against a former permit holder, the SRB will forward your application to the Commission for review. If payment is outstanding, the Commission will determine whether compensation is payable under section 46 of OGAA


Is an application for compensation required every year?

Yes, if you choose to apply to the Surface Rights Board. If you choose to apply to the Commission, an application is required once. On each anniversary of the surface lease, the Commission will examine your application, and assess and determine your eligibility for further payment(s).


If I initially apply to the SRB, can I later opt for automatic assessment by the Commission to determine my eligibility on an annual basis?

Yes, if you notify the Commission.


What is the reason for the ‘Assignment of Overdue Payments’ and what do the last two clauses mean?

The Assignment transfers to the Commission the right to seek payment from the former permit holder for the money you receive from the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund (the Fund). In other words, instead of you pursuing the former permit holder for that money, the Commission can pursue the former permit holder for reimbursement of the money paid to you from the Fund. Any money recovered by the Commission is returned to the Fund, where it can be used to restore orphan sites, provide land owner compensation under section 46, or support other purposes of the Fund. It remains your choice to pursue any other claims you may have against the former permit holder under the surface lease.

Clause 1: “Nothing in or arising from this Assignment shall in any way alter or affect any other rights or claims of the Assignor under the Surface Lease, which may be pursued by the Assignor at its sole discretion.”

The clause means that the land owner remains a party to the surface lease and maintains any legal rights or claims that exist under the surface lease, other than the right to pursue payment from the former permit holder for money you receive from the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund.

Clause 2: “This Assignment does not convey any duties or obligations whatsoever to the Commission under or arising from the Surface Lease.”

The clause means that the Commission is not taking on any responsibilities or obligations under the surface lease as a result of the Assignment. The clause does not mean that you are waiving any rights to apply to the Commission for additional payment in the future, nor does it alter the Commission’s objective to complete restoration of orphan sites.


Is an Assignment required for both applications to the Commission and the Surface Rights Board (SRB)?

Yes. An Assignment is required for each annual submission to the SRB, or only once with your initial application to the Commission. The Surface Rights Board version can be found at www.surfacerightsboard.bc.ca and the Commission version can be found at here.

An orphaned company was a Working Interest Participant in one of our wells, will the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund (OSRF) contribute to its decommissioning and restoration?

In B.C., there is no regulatory mechanism for permit holders to claim the defunct working interest’s share of closure costs from the OSRF. We understand that there is a provision for this in Alberta legislation; however, there is no such provision here in B.C.


Our company was a Working Interest Participant (WIP) in a now orphaned oil and gas activity. Will the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund (OSRF) be seeking contribution from us for the decommissioning and restoration of the orphaned site? Is there the expectation that one of the remaining WIPs assume care and custody of the site?

Legislation does not currently contemplate WIP as person’s responsible, nor is a permit holder able to make claims to the OSRF for defunct WIPs. If a permit holder’s site does become orphaned, the OSRF has the ability to pay the costs associated with the decommissioning and restoration of the site. Persons responsible for orphan debts under OGAA may include the permit holder and/or PNG tenure holder.


We need to cross an orphan pipeline. What is the process with crossing orphaned segments, and do I need a crossing agreement?

The Orphan Site Reclamation Fund/Commission does not enter into crossing or proximity agreements for orphaned pipelines and/or sites; but we do ask proponents that due diligence and care is taken to ensure the ongoing integrity of the line to be crossed. This includes following all industry regulations and practices when working around buried piping and infrastructure.

We ask for an outline of the work and any mitigation activities that will be completed during construction/access, noting if there is any surface disturbance to the orphan pipeline right-of-way expected. If so, we would be looking to hear how you plan to minimize the impact, i.e. use matting or ramps where crossing orphan pipelines, and your plan to restore any resulting disturbance. We would then advise if we had any concerns. Notifications can be sent to OrphanRestoration@bcogc.ca


Our company is preparing to hydraulically fracture a pad and are in the process of sending out offset notifications. There are orphan wells within our frac planning zone (FPZ). What information is required and who do we notify?

Please forward all notifications to OrphanRestoration@bcogc.ca. Notifications, as per Section 9.2.2 of the Oil and Gas Activity Operations Manual, should include the estimated date of completion, the well permit number(s), profile, stimulated formation, and total vertical depth of the wells to be stimulated, and the orphan wells that fall within the FPZ. We will then advise if we have any concerns with respect to the orphan wells and outline any mitigation that may be required.


We have a site in a remote/difficult/costly to access area of B.C. There are orphaned sites in the same area. Would the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund (OSRF) consider going into this area at the same time to share access costs?

The OSRF is always interested in exploring possible collaborations with permit holders, particularly in remote/difficult/costly areas, and is open to discussion.


I am interested in possibly acquiring equipment that remains on an orphan site. Is the Orphan Site Restoration Fund (OSRF) interested in exploring such opportunities?

Yes, the OSRF is open to discussing opportunities for others to acquire equipment from orphan sites, please contact orphanrestoration@bcogc.ca. The Commission prefers one of our approved contractors be utilized for the work (billed to the 'purchaser’); should you wish to use a contractor of your choosing we would require a supervisor from an approved OSRF vendor be present.

I can provide services. How can I get on your vendor list to provide these services to the Orphan Site Restoration Fund (OSRF)?

We periodically post a Request for Standing Offer through the Commission’s procurement portal https://procurement.bcogc.ca/ and on BC Bid https://www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca/ to establish Standing Offers for services required by the OSRF.

If the services you offer fall under the direction of our prime contractors, it is at their discretion to seek the services of sub-contractors they may require.


What is the difference between a Standing Offer and a Contract?

Following a Request for Standing Offer, successful proponents will enter into a Standing Offer to provide services to the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund as required. The decision to use any Standing Offer will rest with the Commission. A Standing Offer is not a contract. A contract is created only when a scope of work is awarded and the Commission issues a Draw-Down of services under the Standing Offer. A General Service Agreement will be used to execute the Draw-Down of services.


If Standing Offer(s) have already been awarded, is there another way to become an approved vendor?

The Commission will continue to accept additional proposals after a Request for Standing Offer has closed; however, such additional proposals will only be reviewed if and when necessary to add additional contractors to the Standing Offer. Subsequent submissions will be reviewed against the same criteria as was considered in the Request for Standing Offer. Successful contractor(s) who establish a Standing Offer for services with the Commission may be selected for existing and future opportunities at the discretion of the Commission.


How long is a Standing Offer valid for and is there an opportunity to revise costs?

It is anticipated that the term of a Standing Offer will be for one year with an option to renew for two additional one-year terms at the discretion of the Commission. Pricing is to be firm for the duration of the standing offer term. Should the Commission choose the renewal option, the Contractor(s) will be contacted prior to the renewal period to discuss any changes to the standing offer. Any renewal pricing submitted is subject to approval and will need to be firm for the renewal term.

Serviceplans

Resources

People

Land Owners

If an operator becomes insolvent, site maintenance, safety and restoration become the Commission’s priority. Land owners are not responsible for managing or maintaining orphan sites and can apply for outstanding rental payments relative to a surface lease.

Check out the "Orphan Site Management" Frequently Asked Questions section above for more information.

Plant

Restoration Partnerships

The Commission has been partnering with several Treaty 8 communities to protect the environment, support First Nations' interests to share knowledge or restoration successes, and provide opportunities for direct participation/ employment in the restoration of former oil and gas industry sites to their natural state.

Online

Contract Work

The Commission uses contractors to complete work on orphan sites in accordance with public sector procurement requirements. A Request for Standing Offer (RFSO) will be advertised on BC Bid and will direct to the Commission’s Procurement Portal.

Check out the "Orphan Site Management" Frequently Asked Questions section above for more information on the procurement process.

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Spatial Data

Spatial data is available for all dormant and orphan sites, as both shape files (used in an ArcGIS platform), as well as KML files (used in a Google Earth platform). If you have questions about spatial data for orphan sites, email: orphanrestoration@bcogca.ca.

Communication

Questions & Contact

Questions and comments are welcomed by the Commission and can be directed to orphanrestoration@bcogc.ca.

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