by Mark Sabourin
Freelance Writer. Campbellford, Ontario
April 1, 2021
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A welcome $1.72 billion cash infusion into the Western Canadian oil and gas service industry — everything from service rigs to environmental consultants – has helped an entire sector find its feet in the midst of a global pandemic. The rollout was anything but smooth, but with funds now flowing freely, the industry is loudly applauding the federal and provincial governments for a program that likely averted a financial disaster and may even have averted an environmental one.
In this first of two parts, ERIS looks at the program’s (bumpy) rollout.
A Pandemic-Relief Gold Rush?
The lights burned bright in the offices of oil and gas service companies the night of April 30, 2020 across Alberta. Nobody got a good night’s sleep. The scene was repeated the weekend of May 22 to 24 next door in BC, particularly in the province’s gas-rich northeast.
In both cases, companies were stalking their share of a $1.72 billion windfall – COVID relief money the federal government had allocated to Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan to support the abandonment and reclamation of dormant oil and gas sites and infrastructure. Alberta and BC had let it be known that funding applications would be taken on a first come, first served basis, and service companies in those provinces were preparing to pounce the instant the application portal opened.