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Alberta Landowners Guide, AER Oil and Gas Related Legislation

Landowners Guide Cover.jpg
3rd edition
Authors:            Duncan Kenyon, Nikki Way, Andrew Read, Barend Dronkers, Benjamin Israel, Binnu Jeyakumar, Nina Lothian
Publisher: Pembina Institute
Publish Date: October 2016
PDF Download: [Landowners' Guide]              [Landowners' Primer]                                                                    
Initiation Phase
Exploration Phase
Development Phase
Pipelines and Other Infrastructure
Environmental Impacts
Abandonment and Reclamation
Compensation, Rights, and Hearings
                Alberta Energy Regulator
                Other Alberta Departments
                Other Resources
                Legal Assistance
                Energy Industry Associations
                Provincial Non-profit Organizations
                Surface Rights and Local Groups
                Responsible Energy Development Act
                AER Oil and Gas Related Legislation
                AER Energy Related Legislation
                Other Provincial Acts
                Documenting Costs
                Glossary of Terms

Legislation administered by the Alberta Energy Regulator

Oil and Gas Conservation Act

The Oil and Gas Conservation Act (RSA 2000, c O-6) sets out the required operating practices for locating, drilling, testing, operating, and abandoning oil and gas wells, and for the storage and disposal of substances.[1] It deals with pollution prevention at and below the surface, the general conservation of the resource and prevention of waste. Parts 3–5 define the AER’s powers. Parts 6–9 deal with practical matters such as issuing well licences and pipeline permits, and the production of oil and gas. Section 41, for example, gives the Regulator any powers it needs to prevent an escape of oil, gas, water or substance. The Regulator also has power to clean up any escaped oil and to recover costs later (section 104), or to issue an enforcement order requiring others to take action (section 105). Part 11 describes the Orphan Fund, set up to pay for the abandonment and reclamation costs of orphan wells, facilities and pipelines. It makes provision for a delegated authority to operate this fund, which currently is the Orphan Well Association.[2] For other pollution related legislation, refer to the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act in Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA).

Relevant regulations under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act

AR 151/71 Oil and Gas Conservation Rules

This lengthy regulation specifies how the industry should operate oil and gas wells and undertake oilsands operations. While most of the technical information in the regulation will not be needed by a landowner, a summary of the main sections is given here for reference.

Part 1 defines the terms used throughout the regulation.

Part 2: Licensing of Wells specifies what information a company must submit when applying for a licence. It includes a plan of the site, information on the topography and the location of water wells within 200 metres of an oil or gas well. Section 2.120: Water Pollution Control prohibits the drilling of a well or a pit for disposal of oilfield fluids closer than 100 metres to a permanent stream without special permission.

Part 3: Approval of Drilling and Completion Operations includes the approval required for drilling operations and information on how a company must deal with suspended wells and abandoned wells. Section 3.012 outlines the requirements that a company must follow to carry out well abandonment.

Part 4 covers drilling spacing units and target areas and Part 5 covers blocks, projects and holdings.

Part 6: Drilling, Completing and Servicing deals with the removal of the rig and with casing the well, and gives requirements for posting of the well licence and signs.

Part 7: Production Operations sets out requirements for testing wells, air emissions management and the flaring of gas that contains above a certain level of H2S.

In addition to setting out requirements for emergency response plans, Part 8: Emergency Preparedness and Response, also deals with storage tanks, water disposal, control of oil and water spills, burning vented gases, blowout prevention requirements, drilling and servicing inspections, care of well and battery sites (including waste disposal) and fencing requirements.

Part 9: Processing Plants includes requirements with respect to emissions of sulphur to the air and the disposal of wastewater.

Parts 10 to 16 deal with production rates and accounting, well data, records and reports, well and battery names, measurement, and certain applications (including enhanced recovery of oil, gas processing and underground storage and water disposal).

AR 45/2001 Orphan Fund Delegated Administration Regulation

This regulation sets up the Alberta Oil and Gas Orphan Abandonment and Reclamation Association (known as the Orphan Well Association), which manages the orphan well fund. See Inactive Wells, Orphan Wells and Pipelines for more information.

Oil Sands Conservation Act

The Oil Sands Conservation Act (RSA 2000, c O-7) is the equivalent of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, but it applies to oilsands instead of conventional oil and gas. The Oil Sands Conservation Act sets out the approval process for the extraction and processing of oilsands in the province. It specifies the requirements for in-situ operations (production from wells), for the mining of surface or underground oilsands, and for processing plants.

Relevant regulations under the Oil Sands Conservation Act

AR 76/88 Oil Sands Conservation Regulation

After definitions (Part 1), Part 2 of the regulation provides general requirements for pollution control, precautions with respect to hydrogen sulphide (H2S), emergency response plans, prevention of loss and injury, burning gas or waste, waste, and the flaring, incinerating, and venting of gas. Subsequent sections deal with mining operations (Part 3), in situ operations (Part 4) and processing plants (Part 5).

Pipeline Act

The Pipeline Act (RSA 2000, c P-15) deals with all aspects of pipeline construction and operation, from the initial licences (Part 4), and the use and acquisition of the land (Part 7), to the suspension and shutting down of a pipeline (Part 5). As with wells, it is the Regulator’s responsibility to ensure the safe and efficient construction and operation of pipelines in the province and to control pollution.

Relevant regulations under the Pipeline Act

AR 91/2005 Pipeline Rules

The details about how the Pipeline Act is to be implemented are set out in this regulation. Issues covered include routine matters such as standards for the materials and construction of a pipeline, ground disturbance (sections 58–67), warning signs (section 68–71), inspections for corrosion (section 53, 54), emergency procedures, and leaks and breaks (sections 27, 76–78). Noise levels at compressors and pump stations are not to exceed specified limits (section 17). The regulation also deals with discontinued pipelines and their abandonment (sections 82–84).


  1. This material is from the Pembina Institute publication 'Landowners' Guide to Oil and Gas Development, 3rd edition (2016)'
  2. The Orphan Well Association, “About Us”. http://www.orphanwell.ca/pg_about_us.html