The Energy Resource Conservation Board ("ERCB") is
seeking public input on new rules designed to address growing
development of unconventional resources in the province of Alberta.
Regulating Unconventional Oil and Gas in Alberta – a
Discussion Paper outlines a new approach by the ERCB to regulate
horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in unconventional oil
and gas production in the province. According to the ERCB, the
technology used to develop unconventional resources, mainly
horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, are not new in
Alberta. However, the scale of the development of unconventional
resources has increased significantly. To address the associated
challenges with large scale developments, the discussion paper
suggests a new regulatory approach that includes moving from
well-by-well regulation to regulation focused on development within
a defined area. This "play-focused" regulation is
intended to be performance-based to achieve specific outcomes in
water protection, air quality, waste management, surface impacts,
resource conservation and orderly development.
According to the ERCB, feedback on the discussion paper will be
accepted until March 31, 2013.
In Addition, the ERCB is currently seeking feedback on a
draft directive that addresses sub-surface issues related to
the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling
(the "Proposed Directive"). The Proposed Directive will
rescind Directive 027: Shallow Fracturing Operations –
Restricted Operations and Bulletin 2012-02: Hydraulic Fracturing;
Interwellbore Communication Between Energy Wells. The Proposed
directive is intended to prevent interwellbore communication, and
ensure well integrity during hydraulic fracturing operations.
Specifically, the Proposed Directive includes: (i) requirements to
prevent loss of well integrity; (ii) requirements for a licensee to
asses, plan for, and mitigate the risks of interwellbore
communication with offset wells; (iii) requirement to protect
nonsaline aquifers from hydraulic fracturing; (iv) requirements
increasing vertical setback distances for hydraulic fracturing
operations near water wells; (vi) requirements for pumping volume
restrictions and exemptions to setback distances for nitrogen
fracturing operations for coalbed methane; and (vii) requirements
relating to notification of hydraulic fracturing operations.
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The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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