In the wake of increasing applications for commercial
developments of oil sands projects, the Alberta Energy Resources
Conservation Board (the "ERCB") has announced that it is
taking steps to accelerate project approvals and update its rules
regarding how oil sands projects tailings, subsurface reservoirs,
water and wellbores are managed.
Speaking at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
environmental issues seminar on November 14, 2012, Terry Abel,
executive manager of the ERCB's oil sands and coal division,
stated that applications for commercial developments of oil sands
projects have tripled in the last three years. This outcome has
resulted in long lead times to receiving project approvals and
demonstrated that existing guidelines need updating. The current
lead times have been attributed to a lack of clarity in what
companies need to include in an application. As a result, the ERCB
intends to update Directive 23 (Guidelines Respecting an
Application for a Commercial Crude Bitumen Recovery and Upgrading
Project) to provide a clear and concise directive that is current
with today's requirements to ultimately reduce Supplemental
Information Requests from the ERCB.
Mr. Abel further stated that the ERCB intends to update a number
of regulatory instruments in the near future. Notably, the ERCB is
re-examining its description of what constitutes an experimental
project, Directive 51 which sets out the design of wellbores
including thermal wells, Directive 20 which sets out the rules for
how wells are abandoned in areas that could be influenced by future
thermal development and it is also considering the addition of a
regulatory requirement regarding reservoir containment. Of
particular significance, Mr. Abel stated that ERCB intends to
re-evaluate the requirements for in situ projects' water use as
these requirements date back 25 years when most make-up water was
from fresh sources, whereas now much of it is saline water. In a
recent move indicative of the ERCB's commitment to change in
this area, the intended water management requirement changes were
implement by way of Directive 81 (Water Disposal Limits and
Reporting Requirements for Thermal In Situ Oil Sands Schemes)
effective November 21, 2012. The ERCB plans to begin consultation
with industry members with respect to the remaining regulatory
modifications in the near future and hopes to implement changes
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In Bank of Montreal v Bumper Development Corporation Ltd, 2016 ABQB 363, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench enforced the "immediate replacement" provision in the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen 2007 Operating Procedure...
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