The departure of a natural gas exploration company from the area has left a level of uncertainty for Woodlands County going forward.
Calgary-based company Trident Exploration announced on May 1st that it is ceasing all of its operations in the Fort Assiniboine area, handing over its approximately 3,600 wells to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The company’s board of directors has resigned and all of its employees and contractors were terminated.
In its official media release, Trident blamed the closure on downward trends in natural gas prices and high lease and property tax bills. With that said, the company is one of two who have failed to pay Woodlands County what they owe in taxes from the last year, leaving the County in a deficit of $4.3 million, which is 22 percent of the municipalities’ total tax levy and budgeted revenue for 2018.
Woodlands County Mayor Ron Govenlock says they will now look at potential impacts.
Trident’s closure is the latest in a growing concern regarding oil and gas companies not being able to pay their property taxes to their surrounding municipalities over the last few years. Earlier this year, the Rural Municipalities Association said that 54 Alberta municipalities were collectively owed over $81 million in unpaid taxes for 2018 by energy companies. Woodlands County is one of them.
Now with Trident Exploration’s closure, what happens next for the company and what implications this will further have on Woodlands County is up in the air.
Govenlock says this coming Wednesday, Woodlands County Council will hold a special meeting to address the matter and look at what options are available to them.