Reclamation and Remediation: Alberta Wells

Solution developer

Bison Plains Group

Project description

The Bison Plains Group Inc. aims to research the feasibility of developing Vertical Greenhouses from Abandoned Wells locations. As of July 2021, Alberta had more than 90,000 inactive wells, in addition to 73,000 abandoned wells that have been dismantled but not fully reclaimed, and as of August, the Oil Well Association has an inventory of 2959 orphan wells in the province for abandonment along with 3212 orphan sites for reclamation.

While active wells are producing oil and gas, they generate obvious economic benefits, along with direct and indirect costs. Eventually, however, all wells go dry. After that, their economic value is gone and only the costs remain. Abandoned oil wells pose serious environmental and financial headaches on our lands and it has left Albertans with major environmental liabilities that could cost the province tens of billions of dollars to clean up. Abandoned wells can sit idle for many years. The wells can leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas, or other contaminants, damaging surrounding landscapes and threatening water supplies.

Restoring these sites starts with plugging the well to remove contamination hazards. Next, companies remove all infrastructure, such as well pads and roads. They replace topsoil, plant native plants—which may need extra care to become established over several years—and restore the site’s natural drainage patterns.

Support requested

Regulatory policies, maturing basins, volatile markets, and the COVID-19 pandemic are just some of the factors contributing to the increase in inactive wells in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. In addition to known well-site cleanup programs, another approach to managing inactive wells that are gaining increased traction is repurposing the sites. The label of repurposing is increasingly being used broadly to refer to activities at a well-site that: (a) use some combination of the existing surface rights, facilities and equipment, and/or the underlying exploitation rights; and, (b) involve redeploying or upcycling; such assets either in their own right or with the addition of further assets to create a benefit. We believe the economic benefits from restored lands would be much greater than the costs to reclaim them. We are seeking funding for a feasibility plan to turn abandoned wells into modular refinery into vertical greenhouses.


Focus areas

  • Land and Wellsite Reclamation


  • TRL 7 – Product and/or process prototype in an operational environment