Technologies to efficiently abandon and reclaim oil and gas wells while also meeting or exceeding environmental regulations is what Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre and NAL Resources Management Ltd. seek with their newly-announced ARCTIC innovation challenge.

“New technologies have unlocked the potential in shale reservoirs, and we are looking to achieve similar breakthroughs in the abandonment and reclamation processes,” John Kanik, vice-president of health, safety and environment at NAL, stated in a news release. “We hope to find solutions that will provide further incentives to address this industry-wide issue.”

Well abandonment is on the rise in Western Canada and around the world, according to this week’s new release, with roughly 75 per cent of industry asset retirement obligations related to abandonment and reclamation. The financial and environmental liabilities associated with well abandonment and reclamation are expensive and time-consuming, but ARCTIC enables cutting-edge innovators to identify and prepare field trial-ready solutions for the resource sector.

“The ARCTIC program has a track record of helping industry operate more responsibly, efficiently and cost effectively, and we expect similar results with this challenge,” noted Neil Huff, managing director at Foresight.

More responsible “end-of-life practices” will benefit industry, he added, and the open challenge approach invites solution providers with cleantech, nano, information and communications, and life-science technologies used in other sectors to join with innovators in energy to find and commercialize new breakthrough solutions.

“We are delighted to partner with NAL … on fast-tracking innovative solutions to a challenge that has a significant potential impact on western Canadian governments, businesses, and taxpayers.”

Deadline for proposals is Aug. 30, with shortlisted candidates selected by the end of September, followed by a “Challenge Sprint” process whereby $610,000 in funding will be available for two to five candidates to advance their solutions. Following this Challenge Sprint, one solution will be selected for additional funding for field testing.

The ARCTIC program is funded with support from Western Economic Diversification, BC Innovation Council, and NRC-IRAP, as well as financial support from industry partner NAL and advisory services of consulting partners Tessellate Inc. and The Delphi Group.

Late last year, Foresight along with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance and Alberta Innovates launched an ARCTIC challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency by identifying alternative means for generating hot water for mining and extraction processes in the oilsands (DOB, Nov. 3, 2016).