On August 19, 2014, the Alberta Energy Regulator released its 12
page Manual 008: Oil Sands Exploration and Coal
Exploration Application Guide which sets out the application
requirements, processes, and expected timelines for oil sands
exploration and coal exploration programs. As explained in the
Guide's FAQ section, although the general rules and
guidelines for these programs have not changed, with the formation
of the AER, some of the processes have been altered. Consistent
with the recommendations flowing from the Province's Regulatory
Enhancement Project to attract investment to develop Alberta's
resources (more found here), the Guide is an attempt to explain and
streamline those processes so that decisions on applications can be
made in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
The Guide's stated objectives are: a) to help industry plan
its programs; and b) to help all interested parties understand the
regulatory process for exploration under the Public Lands
Act, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement
Act, the Oil Sands Conservation Act, and the Oil
and Gas Conservation Act. The AER's hope is that the Guide
will enable the submission of complete applications that can be
evaluated by the AER within expected timelines.
In AER Bulletin 2014-26, which
announced the release of the Guide, Rob Wadsworth, Vice President,
Authorizations, is quoted as stating the following:
The AER is committed to improving the transparency of its
authorization processes and providing certainty that applications
will be processed within set timeframes. Providing guidance on the
AER's authorization process for exploration programs is
important to ensure timely decisions for operations where access is
limited to the winter season.
Highlights of the Guide
Oil sands exploration ("OSE") programs and coal
exploration programs ("CEPs"), to determine the presence
and evaluate the quality of oil sands and coal resources, can be
approved for a term of up to five years – two years for
operations and three years for reclamation.
Caribou protection plans can be submitted or amended at any
A decision on a complete CEP or OSE program application under
the Public Lands Act without any Statements of Concern can
be expected within 60 business days. Due to the unique issues
associated with winter drilling periods, for a complete OSE program
application submitted before September 15, 2014, the AER has
committed to making a decision by October 31, 2014.
Applicants are encouraged to include the range of location
variability or flexibility they may want during operations when
conducting First Nations consultation.
It is confirmed in the FAQ section that these new processes are
available to industry starting immediately. For applications that
have already been submitted, companies are to contact the AER land
use officers to discuss their applications. Any changes to the land
area identified in an application already submitted to the AER will
require an amendment and will need to be reposted for public
notification under section 31 of the Responsible Energy
The Guide can be viewed by industry as a further step which has
been taken in an attempt to reduce what were considered by many to
be overly complicated regulatory processes governing the
development of Alberta's resources. With the availability of
the processes set out in the Guide, regulatory certainty can be
said to have been enhanced, and the regulatory regime governing
Alberta's oil and gas sector may be seen as being more
attractive for investment.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
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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