British Columbia Legacy Liability: Identification to Closure
In 2004 Reclaimit environmental consultants identified a historic oil and gas exploration lease, a wildcat exploration well, in the remote regions of northwest British Columbia. The site was drilled in 1972 and is found in the in the subalpine and alpine ecosystems of Canada’s Coastal Mountains. Constructed in a remote and rugged location, the site receives in excess of 1 m of rain and 30+ m of snow in a calendar year. It is frequented by large wildlife (e.g. grizzly bear, cougar, and wolf), is a four-hour drive to the nearest medical centre, 90 km to the nearest village and requires satellite communication systems. Basecamp staging is within 10 km of the development and is accessible by paved road. From staging, accessing the site on the ground requires a 10 km walk along the former access with an elevation rise of 950 m. Essentially, a helicopter is the only safe and reliable access method.
The asset was not tracked in the project proponent’s (PP) portfolio of sites for nearly 40 years. Why? Its ownership changed multiple times over the decades and it got lost in the shuffle. This location was rediscovered in a review of records that typically occurs for any business that restructures, acquires, and divests assets. Although the site underwent a well bore abandonment in 1972 its reclamation status was unknown. Therefore, the PP engaged the Reclaimit consultancy to conduct a new baseline assessment of the feature and provide site leadership during the environmental site assessment and removal of light industrial debris remnants for proper disposal. This role focused on the development and implementation of project logistics, leading field health and safety and interfacing with regional and local regulatory agencies and stakeholders.
From 2004-10 Reclaimit environmental consultants provided frontline site leadership and logistics support at the location for some of British Columbia’s top environmental professionals who were tasked with the completion of a Detailed Site Assessment (DSA). Once the site was deemed ready for reclamation, our consultants designed a reclamation plan that was forwarded by the PP to the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) for review. Pleased with the management thus far and supportive of the strategic approaches, the BCOGC approved the reclamation plan for the site.
The arrival of the summer of 2019 saw the prime contractor, AECOM, lead the completion of final reclamation on location. A senior Reclaimit environmental consultant was engaged as a Technical Advisor to AECOM for the project and was able to partake in site work and the final completion of the Reclaimit designed and approved reclamation plan.
From 2004-19 all site work was completed incident and accident-free. The location is now set for monitoring and, ultimately, liability release by regulatory agencies.