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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Orphan?

In the upstream oil and gas industry, an orphan is a well, pipeline, facility or associated site which has been investigated and confirmed as not having any legally responsible and/or financially able party to deal with its abandonment and reclamation responsibilities.

The AER first investigates possible orphans for responsible parties before designating individual properties (wells, pipelines, facilities or sites) as orphans. If you have any questions or concerns about possible orphans, please contact the AER Customer Contact Centre Toll Free 1-855-297-8311.

Who is the Orphan Well Association?

The Orphan Well Association or OWA is a non-profit organization unique to the province of Alberta which was created from the work of many genuinely concerned individuals from our oil and gas industry and from our provincial government.

The OWA operates under the delegated legal authority of the Alberta Energy Regulator or AER, the provincial regulator of the oil and gas industry. We sublease office space and computer services from the AER, and operate financially and legally separate from the AER.

The OWA prepares an annual report (available on our website under Reports tab) to provide information on our activities each year to all stakeholders including industry and the public.

Who Funds the OWA's Activities?

The OWA operates under the direction of its Members who include the following:

  • Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)

  • The Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC)

  • Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)

  • Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) (non-voting)

Industry funds the majority of the costs incurred by the OWA through an Orphan Fund Levy. The AER assesses and collects a levy amount based on the deemed abandonment and reclamation liabilities held by each company and then remits the collected funds to the OWA.

Who Do I Contact About Surface Lease Payments?

The Orphan Well Association (OWA) is unable to compensate landowners for unpaid surface lease payments from a defunct or insolvent company. If you have any questions about applying to receive lease payments for your land, we encourage you to contact the Alberta Surface Rights Board (dial toll free 310-0000, then 780-427-2444 or visit


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