GFM Network News



Under the Site Rehabilitation Program, farmers can nominate abandoned well sites — like this one in the Municipal District of Taber — for cleanup.

Lots of applications on orphan wells, but few boots on the ground

Abandoned well program inundated with applications but approvals slow in coming

Progress has been slow, but Alberta farmers should soon see work being done to remove abandoned oil and gas wells. In May, Ottawa put up $1.72 billion to clean up orphan or inactive oil and gas wells, pipelines and facilities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., with Alberta using its $1-billion share to create the Site […] Read more


Converting abandoned oil and gas wells to renewable power generation, like this Imaginea installation by SkyFire Energy near Tilley, could be a win win for Alberta. Some of that work is already getting underway in Taber, thanks to a pilot project set to launch next spring.

Pilot project to convert old oil and gas wells gets green light

Reusing roads and power lines from abandoned wells could make Alberta a renewable energy leader

A pilot project to convert abandoned oil and gas sites in southern Alberta to renewable power generation has been given the green light and more than $4 million in funding to make it happen. “So far, nobody has actually used abandoned oil and gas infrastructure for solar deployment,” said Keith Hirsche, who is heading up […] Read more

Producers don’t have a lot of cards to play in negotiations with energy companies, says expert.

Be prepared when negotiating with oil and gas companies

Understand the process and gather all the evidence you can to support your claim, says expert

In the game of getting compensation for surface rights, oil and gas companies hold most of the cards. “I would liken it to a good poker game where you only get the low cards,” said Graham Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Consulting in Leduc. “Sure, you could get a straight with a whole bunch of aces […] Read more


The amount of unpaid taxes owed by oil and gas companies more than doubled last year and now stands at $173 million, says the president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

Will you be on the hook for abandoned gas and oil wells?

Rural property owners will be ‘significantly’ impacted by $173 million in unpaid taxes, say municipalities

Rural Albertans could be on the hook for a growing number of orphaned and abandoned wells and tens of millions in back taxes owed by struggling oil and gas companies. “This is not the first year we’ve had companies choosing not to pay their taxes, and it is escalating,” said Al Kemmere, president of the […] Read more

Kochia has taken over this abandoned well site and stands nearly as tall as Kevin Serfas. The Turin farmer says his calls to the energy companies that own several dozen similar sites on his family’s farming operation go unanswered. And managing the weeds would require “a full-time guy,” he said.

Farmers lose — and weeds win — when energy companies walk away

When well sites are abandoned, the rent cheques 
often stop while the noxious weeds flourish

“Kochia six feet tall and completely covering the whole leases. We have many that look like this. When I phone, no one even answers the phones.” This tweet from Lethbridge-area farmer Kevin Serfas in August likely could have been written by any one of hundreds of Alberta producers with abandoned well sites on their farms. […] Read more


Some landowners wrongly billed for power

The Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) is warning landowners to watch their electricity bills if they have surface leases with insolvent companies. EPCOR has collected payment from landowners for providing three-phase electric power to a surface lease after an oil and gas company became insolvent. The company relied on a clause in its service agreement where […] Read more

Landowners’ rights and exploration

The Farmers’ Advocate Office has updated one of its key publications to help landowners understand their rights relating to geophysical exploration. Geophysical Exploration and Landowners’ Rights answers the five most common questions about geophysical exploration, including whether landowners can refuse permission for exploration on their land. (They can.) It also explains the notification process and […] Read more


A record number of oil companies aren’t paying their rent to landowners, nor the taxes they owe to municipalities.

Oil lease defaults hit new record

Landowner compensation claims more than doubled last year and have already doubled again this year

For the second year in a row, the number of claims against oil companies defaulting on rental agreements has smashed records. Under Section 36 of the Surface Rights Act, landowners can apply for compensation from the provincial government if an oil company hasn’t paid their surface rental lease. From 2003 to 2014, the board has […] Read more

In the last year, the Surface Rights Board has received more than 750 new applications from producers who haven’t been paid for their oil leases.

Oil companies bucking their commitments

Farmers are struggling to get oil companies to pay their leases and complete reclamation work on abandoned wells

There’s a wet spot originating from an oil well in Anthony Bruder’s pasture that his cows won’t drink from. “I’ve seen cows walk up to it, sniff it, and then walk a half-mile to the other end of the field to drink from the lake,” said Bruder, who farms near Twin Butte. “If the cows […] Read more