CALGARY — A shortage of rig workers could delay progress when it comes to cleaning up Alberta’s tens of thousands of inactive oil and gas wells.

The Canadian Association of Energy Contractors says drilling and service companies are struggling to find enough workers as oil and gas companies ramp up production in response to surging commodity prices.

Many of the same companies that provide rigs for new drilling programs are also involved in industry cleanup efforts.

The Alberta government announced last year it would require companies to spend a minimum amount of money every year toward cleanup of inactive wells. The federal government has also made $1-billion available to Alberta for industry contractors working on well cleanup.

The government programs were in part meant to help create jobs for unemployed rig workers at the outset of the pandemic. Oil prices crashed in early 2020 and many rigs were idled.

Alberta Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Henshaw says the government is in talks with industry about the labour shortage. She said worker shortages could delay efforts in the short-term, but well cleanup remains a priority.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press

News from © The Canadian Press, 2021. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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