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Thread: Alberta company falsified documents relating to well abandonment and reclaimation

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    Default Alberta company falsified documents relating to well abandonment and reclaimation

    Quote Originally Posted by Globe and Mail
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    Energy firms misled Alberta regulators on cleanup of well sites
    EMMA GRANEY ENERGY REPORTER
    PUBLISHED 9 HOURS AGO
    UPDATED JANUARY 14, 2021

    Close to 60 natural gas well sites near the hamlet of Jenner, in southern Alberta, are supposed to have been shut down, cleaned up and the land returned to its natural state. Instead, scattered equipment, holes in the earth, dead vegetation and divots deep enough to swallow the wheel of a pickup truck dot the landscape, evidence of what one regulator called a “really serious case of falsification of documents.”

    The 59 wells belong to one Calgary-based company. Another, an environmental services provider, applied to the provincial regulator for reclamation certificates that affirmed all the sites had been returned to natural prairie. But after local landowners complained, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) launched a two-year investigation and cancelled every certificate.

    Aeraden Energy Corp. owns the wells and a company called CEPro Energy & Environmental Services Inc. signed off on the cleanup of the sites.

    The AER investigation found that Aeraden had left groundwater monitoring wells, fences and berms on sites, failed to fix slumping soil and dead vegetation, and – in one case – filed for a reclamation certificate for a site that was still active.

    The probe also included an audit of all reclamation certificate applications lodged by CEPro since 2016. It found the company had submitted site photos that weren’t of the wells being reclaimed, and signed off on cleanups at many sites despite holes in the ground and various infrastructure left behind.

    But neither company will face financial penalties, despite the breadth and seriousness of their contraventions of Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) and regulations governing conservation and reclamation. Instead, each company received a warning letter from AER, calling the matter “very serious.”

    “With additional time and investigation, it is likely that a more significant enforcement action would have been taken by the AER,” the letters noted. But a two-year time limit imposed by the EPEA on investigations meant the two companies were simply warned, and notes added to their enforcement histories. That time limit and the sheer volume of information meant the regulator could only investigate a handful of the 59 sites.

    Aeraden was also ordered to complete remediation of the sites. However, the case will have no implications for several other oil and gas sites Aeraden operates across Alberta and Saskatchewan, the AER said.

    Matthew Oliver is deputy registrar and chief regulatory officer of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), which regulates the practices of engineering and geoscience in Alberta. It’s the largest association of self-regulated professionals in Western Canada, but Mr. Oliver said he has never seen such an egregious case since he was licensed in 1991.

    “This is a really, really serious case of falsification of documents” amounting to “more than a casual slip,” he told The Globe and Mail.


    But the AER said it has no evidence of a deliberate attempt by either company to mislead regulators. It’s also standing by OneStop, the online system used for reclamation applications.

    The OneStop program removes the requirement for inspectors to even lay their eyes on sites before issuing certificates saying land has been returned to its pre-well state. Instead, it relies on energy companies and those that sign off on their cleanup work – agrologists and engineers, for example – to attest the information attached to their applications is true and correct.

    Legislation that governs APEGA prevents Mr. Oliver from confirming whether an investigation into CEPro and its president, Lian Zhao, is underway, but he said “this is exactly the sort of case that would result in a complaint being filed with [APEGA’s] investigative committee.”

    Ms. Zhao did not want to answer questions or provide information about the case when reached by The Globe by phone, saying only it was a “complex story.”

    The AER says neither CEPro nor Aeraden have appealed the warning letters, and Ms. Zhao would not confirm whether her company plans to take that route.

    Aeradan doesn’t list any employees on its website, but its office manager Wendy Ma – who is named in the AER penalty letter – did not return repeated phone calls and e-mails asking for comment. Nor did the company’s owner, Vancouver-based Saliance Global Holdings Co. Ltd.

    According to Saliance’s website, it owns Aldesta Hotels Group, which runs a range of luxury hotels and resorts in British Columbia and Australia. It’s also an affiliate of Shanghai SanDun Auto Parts Co. Ltd. – which supplies auto parts for various companies out of its manufacturing facilities in Shanghai – and an Australian property development and management company called G&Q Real Estate.

    Aeraden first came to the attention of Kris Bower, co-founder of an advisory firm called Welltraxx, about four years ago when Aeraden bought a collection of natural gas wells from Magnum Energy Inc. Welltraxx helps landowners across Western Canada manage their oil and gas holdings, and is assisting a group in Jenner.

    For years, Aeraden has failed to pay those local farmers and ranchers the money they’re contracted to receive for the leases on their land, Mr. Bower told The Globe. He has worked on the land agent side of oil and gas for close to 20 years, but said the Aeraden-CEPro case was “certainly an oddball” owing to the sheer volume of breaches.

    “Most of those sites were not anywhere close to being [reclamation certificate] ready,” he said. “There was still much work needed, but just how that got so far off the rails, well, I’m not really sure.”

    Mr. Bower said landowners started raising red flags when they received reclamation certificate packages in the mail that indicated they had signed off on cleanup work. They hadn’t.

    Mr. Oliver of APEGA, the engineering association, says it goes “right to the core of who we are are professionals” if and when members flout the rules that govern them.

    “One count of falsifying a document is immensely serious. [The AER] felt there were grounds there to cancel 59 reclamation certificates, which is huge,” he said.

    “We know times are tough in the industry right now, but that moves me to say we need to be focused even more on people not cutting corners and not falsifying things, because the protection of the public is even more critical.”
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/busi...of-well-sites/

    Wow this is shady even by the already lax standards of professional conduct out there. I hope APEGA can destroy a few of these fools, because the AER isn't going to.
    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
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    Shady Chinese money doing illegal things?

    Quelle surprise.
    Originally posted by Thales of Miletus

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    AER is so captured it's ridiculous. Literally just a slap on the wrist with a letter, and no balls to actually fine someone..

    "But the AER said it has no evidence of a deliberate attempt by either company to mislead regulators"

    I work in environmental consulting, putting the wrong photos in for one site is one thing, but 59 of them? Wow. How much more proof do you need.

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    I don't get why AER is not doing any penalties. Maybe there is more to the story of course, but strange.
    Makes it easier for other smaller companies to start taking risks because they know they can just play dumb and get a "stern warning"...

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    Their first mistake was letting engineers decide what “clean” looks like
    Originally posted by Thales of Miletus

    If you think I have been trying to present myself as intellectually superior, then you truly are a dimwit.
    Originally posted by Toma
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disoblige View Post
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    I don't get why AER is not doing any penalties. Maybe there is more to the story of course, but strange.
    Makes it easier for other smaller companies to start taking risks because they know they can just play dumb and get a "stern warning"...
    Because we are open for business.

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    If I had a guess the company itself is completely underwater and punishing them would cost more money than they could ever recover?

    LMR of .28, 100boe/d over 16 net producing wells. Confirmed shitco.
    Last edited by killramos; 01-14-2021 at 02:51 PM.
    Originally posted by Thales of Miletus

    If you think I have been trying to present myself as intellectually superior, then you truly are a dimwit.
    Originally posted by Toma
    fact.

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    the recovery of monetary damages isn't the only or main point of punishments.

    I'm just horrified, as an Albertan, as a person in the energy industry, as an engineer, on every level.
    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    the recovery of monetary damages isn't the only or main point of punishments.

    I'm just horrified, as an Albertan, as a person in the energy industry, as an engineer, on every level.
    Oh if I had my way we would squeeze every penny out of the owners of those wells and lock up everyone who touched the paper trail of the fraudulent reports. But my opinion doesn’t mean much and I do figure the AER would have done something if they thought they had a chance in hell of fixing the issue.
    Originally posted by Thales of Miletus

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    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
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    I do figure the AER would have done something if they thought they had a chance in hell of fixing the issue.

    I think you're giving AER way too much credit. I hope APEGA strips them all of their P. Engs..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent.ff View Post
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    I think you're giving AER way too much credit. I hope APEGA strips them all of their P. Engs..
    Pretty sure this is merely grounds to make them redo their multiple choice ethics test.
    Originally posted by Thales of Miletus

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    I think Apega has more options for punishments with teeth against these companies than the AER does.
    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
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    But neither company will face financial penalties, despite the breadth and seriousness of their contraventions of Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) and regulations governing conservation and reclamation. Instead, each company received a warning letter from AER, calling the matter “very serious.”

    Very serious warning letter
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    and I did not have the only say in the matter (most people just want it done ASAP and don't care about quality).
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    If anything we made a better decision because we had a consensus and were all on the same page.

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    a stern talking.
    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    a stern talking.
    That in my opinion would be harsher than a Serious warning letter lol This whole thing is a major joke, you got a company who falsifies shit, they hire a company whos responsible to make sure its done right add to the falsification, they all get caught on 59 wells and their punishment is a warning letter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    and I did not have the only say in the matter (most people just want it done ASAP and don't care about quality).
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    If anything we made a better decision because we had a consensus and were all on the same page.

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    APEGA doing their job.

    You make the best jokes, ES.
    Follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    That in my opinion would be harsher than a Serious warning letter lol This whole thing is a major joke, you got a company who falsifies shit, they hire a company whos responsible to make sure its done right add to the falsification, they all get caught on 59 wells and their punishment is a warning letter.
    Id be far more shocked if there was no connection between the two companies beyond that relationship..

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    It is a common practice for operating companies to have similar ownership to service companies, and to have close operating relationships as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent.ff View Post
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    Id be far more shocked if there was no connection between the two companies beyond that relationship..
    Extraslow nailed it
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    and I did not have the only say in the matter (most people just want it done ASAP and don't care about quality).
    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsu3000gt View Post
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    If anything we made a better decision because we had a consensus and were all on the same page.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket1k78 View Post
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    Extraslow nailed it
    I would like to clarify that I have no intimate or insider knowledge of any of the companied named in that article, or any persons related to them, certainly not any of thier professional members. My speculation is based only on dealings I've had with companies that sound superficially similar.
    Quote Originally Posted by killramos View Post
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    If there is one thing I know for sure. ES has no Aspen goals

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