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January 2024


Closure work occurring in 2022 contributed to a reduction of $315 million in overall liability (from January 2022 to January 2023). This was accompanied by a reduction of over 8000 inactive wells and an increase of 8400 decommissioned wells and over 4400 reclamation-certified wells. Shifts in facility life-cycle status were focused on decommissioning (+1000). The decrease in unknown facilities was the result of quality-control work underway (see Bulletin 2023-34; as of November 2023 – only 4% of facilities now have an unknown life-cycle status).

Figure 9. Change in life-cycle status, 2021–2022

Change in life-cycle status

There is not a one-to-one linkage between closure spend and reduction of liability estimates. A $700 million quota does not mean a $700 million decrease in the liability estimate. This is because liability estimates only decrease once a closure milestone is achieved (e.g., after decommissioning work is complete and submitted or after a reclamation certificate is issued). Closure work is progressive, working towards a milestone, but milestones are not always achieved within a reporting year (e.g., to achieve a reclamation certificate, local vegetation sometimes takes two or three seasons to re-establish).

The following table breaks down the number of sites in which closure activity is still in progress and the number of sites that reached a closure milestone (e.g., the life-cycle status changed to decommissioned or reclamation certified) within 2022. Liability is not reduced until a closure milestone is reached.

Table 2. Closure spend in progress and spend achieving a milestone, 2022

Closure in progress
Closure milestone
Environmental site assessment
Reclamation certified
Closure Spend ($ in millions)