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Alberta Fossils Stop Paying Rent on Property Leases

eryn.rickard/Wikimedia Commons
eryn.rickard/Wikimedia Commons

A growing number of Alberta fossil companies have stopped paying the rent on the properties they lease, leading to hundreds of new complaints to the Alberta Surface Rights Board (ASRB), the Calgary Herald reported at the beginning of the month.

“It’s pretty much a disaster,” said Patricia Walker, president of My Landman Group, which acts as an intermediary between landowners and industry. “There’s just more and more of this going on.”

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The ASRB, which is responsible for collecting lapsed oil and gas payments, “said the 320 farmers and ranchers seeking compensation in the past month nearly matched what it would typically receive in an entire year,” the paper notes. “A sustained spike in unpaid rents in 2016 threatens to deepen the burden on taxpayers who will be on the hook for the outstanding bill.

Rural municipalities are already missing out on millions of dollars in property tax revenues they were counting on to deliver community services, the Herald reports. To make up for the fossils’ debts, the communities would have to raise taxes on residents who are already hurting as a result of the sustained global oil price crash.

“It’s companies in very difficult times making very difficult decisions. It’s not an issue of them sitting on the money and not releasing it,” said Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Vice President Brad Herald. “In most instances, they’re really struggling to keep their lights on, and they’re falling behind on their obligations.” (h/t to iPolitics for pointing us to this story)