|Authors:||Duncan Kenyon, Nikki Way, Andrew Read, Barend Dronkers, Benjamin Israel, Binnu Jeyakumar, Nina Lothian|
|Publish Date:||October 2016|
|PDF Download:||[Landowners' Guide] [Landowners' Primer]|
Project Initiation and Consultation
Negotiating and Leasing
Disputes and Concerns
Landowners and Media Outreach
|Pipelines and Other Infrastructure|
|Abandonment and Reclamation|
|Compensation, Rights, and Hearings|
The notification radius for a given project is only a minimum; the industry itself is expected to determine if more people in the area have an interest and should be involved. People living outside the consultation or notification radius, or beyond the proposed emergency planning zone (in the case of a sour gas related project), may also have concerns. A company must try to deal with all questions, concerns and objections during the public involvement process before they file their application, even if the objections are from people considered outside the minimum radius or likely to not be considered directly and adversely affected. A company may reach a broader public by holding an open house or other public meeting, and advertising it in the local media. An open house can last several hours, giving members of the public the chance to come at any time and potentially meet one-on-one with company representatives. The same information should be provided as the people in the participant involvement program received, such as the specific details of the project application. While they let you view the company’s displays and ask their staff questions, open houses do not always provide the best opportunity for you to learn about the concerns of others in your community. If possible, ask the company to host a public meeting where everyone can ask questions and hear the company’s response together.
If you are not directly notified by a company about development, you may find out about a project before an application is submitted by talking with your neighbours, looking for survey stakes, or seeing public notifications posted in local newspapers. You can also review mineral lease sales maps to see which companies have purchased mineral leases in your area.
In order to receive an expedited project approval, the company has to confirm for the AER that consultation with the required parties has taken place and that they have dealt with the concerns of those who have been notified and/or consulted on the application, and of any others outside these groups who have concerns that the company is aware of. If the company is not obligated to notify you at this stage of the process and isn’t engaging with you in consultations, you can still submit a ‘pre-application concern’ through the AER’s stakeholder engagement specialists. This notifies the AER that there are outstanding concerns and should ensure the company engages with you, all in the time period before an application is submitted to the Regulator.
If there are any outstanding objections to their plans, or the company was not able to secure a surface lease or a confirmation of non-objection from the required persons, stating that they have no outstanding concerns, the company must notify the AER and file a non-expedited (also known as a non-routine) application, which includes a summary of the outstanding concerns or issues. Additionally, the AER may require the the application to be filed as non-expedited for technical reasons. If the company enters the non-expedited or non-routine process, the AER will not make a decision on the application until the statement of concern filing deadline has passed.
Even if you have submitted a pre-application concern, you must submit a statement of concern when the company files their application, as the pre-application is not considered as part of the decision. The AER will then review the problems and decide whether to issue a licence, encourage a dispute resolution process to find a solution between the two parties, or hold a regulatory hearing. If the application was submitted as a routine application, the notice of application may not include a filing deadline for a statement of concern, and you should expect that the AER will make a decision on the application quickly. If the AER makes a decision before you can submit your statement of concern, you can ask the Regulator to reconsider its decision (see Post-Decision Follow-Up), or request a regulatory appeal (see Regulatory Appeals for AER Decisions Made Without a Hearing).
For more information on submitting a statement of concern, see When the Application is Filed: Submitting a Statement of Concern below.
If you think that operations could affect your water supply, you should ask the company to complete a comprehensive water test before development starts, with a test immediately after drilling has finished and six months after. These tests should be followed by documented annual tests and inspections of your water sources (see Water wells and Surface water). Specify what you would like to be tested, to ensure that the testing covers the types of contaminants that may affect you. This will likely differ for each region, underlying geology, company and technology. Some basic tests may not be comprehensive enough to identify contaminants of concern, so it is best to do your research and ask for advice. If you are worried about health effects of air emissions from a nearby flare (see Air Emissions), you may be able to ask the company to install more efficient technology, or capture additional gas that the Regulator does not require them to conserve. For any concern, you should file a pre-application concern, followed by an official statement of concern once the application has been submitted.
People are sometimes concerned about the proximity of sour gas developments to their homes due to impacts to their health and safety (see Risks of sour gas), or decreasing property values. Companies are required to define an emergency planning zone around a sour gas development. The size of the zone depends on the concentration of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in the gas and the release rate of the gas. Landowners and residents within the zone must be consulted and notified during the development phase, and must be notified if impacted during any sour gas event. Companies must also collect names of susceptible residents so that these can be given early notification of any emergency and evacuated before a general evacuation is called (see Emergency response plans and What to Do in a Sour Gas Emergency). See Sour Oil and Gas Developments and Emergency Response Plans for more information on emergency response plans.
The AER has improved their proliferation requirements to limit excess sour gas developments. Before a company applies to construct a new pipeline or processing facility, it must contact other operators in the area to investigate whether it is feasible to upgrade a facility or form a partnership with existing operators instead of constructing a new facility. During the consultation and notification period, you can ask the company how it plans to meet these AER requirements.
A Public Notice of Application must be made for all applications submitted to the AER. Depending on the project, this may be advertised in your local newspaper or through some other form. The Notice of Application includes details and supporting documentation about the project such as the nature of the activity applied for, the legal land location, contact details for the company, and the deadline for filing a statement of concern. Applications will be available to view at the AER’s Public Notice of Application tool for 30 days after the date they were filed, even if a decision was made on the application before 30 days. A company is also expected to send the notice of application to anyone who has raised concerns about the project. You may also find additional information about a project before or after it is approved on the Integrated Application Registry.
The AER publishes various notices and decisions on its website, and there are several places where you may find information about an application. For more information about the AER website, see Information published by the Alberta Energy Regulator.