In Alberta, we have a very large dependency on the oil and gas industry. It is a mature industry with a large outstanding reclamation obligation. With the collapse of oil prices and long-term low gas prices, extreme labor costs and past practices of wasteful management, we have an industry in hard times. We now have emerging restoration and reclamation obligations coming home to roost.
In 2009 and 2010 I was part of a research project that showed Albertan’s top value drivers around what constituted responsible oil sands development. We found the top issues used to evaluate if a project was meeting its obligations to the public interest was reclamation type, habitat protection, ecological monitoring and greenhouse gas emissions, in that order. The pace of reclamation was not critical then, but it is becoming more important now.
The industry focus on energy development creating jobs and economic growth was the least important value for Albertans. In today’s economy that may be a higher value drive.
We have done a very good job on monitoring around air, water, and land, but not much on habitat monitoring or protection. Very little reclamation has been done to date but it is getting more attention in oil sands. In the conventional energy business, this obligation is almost totally ignored by the industry.
So, gentle reader, what do you think today about the importance of restoration reclamation obligations in your energy resource assets?