The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) recently provided important clarification on two ministerial orders that suspended a number of reporting requirements applicable to the oil and gas industry. Updates on Alberta Energy ministerial order 219/2020 and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) ministerial order 17/2020 can be found here and here, respectively.
AEP ministerial order
The AER confirmed that despite the temporary suspension of various reporting requirements under regulatory approvals issued under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act and the Public Lands Act, the following reporting requirements continue to apply to operations regulated by the AER:
- bird protection plans for oil sands;
- annual mine financial security program submissions, aggregate management plan updates and disclosure of areas cleared for oil sands and coal operations;
- final reclamation reports for dams and canals under the Water Act; and
- dam safety submissions for all high, very high and extreme consequence dams regulated by the AER.
Alberta Energy ministerial order
Alberta Energy ministerial order 219/2020 temporarily suspended various requirements under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act to the extent necessary to comply with applicable Public Health Act orders. The AER has clarified that the following AER requirements are temporarily suspended:
- reporting any release less than 20 m3 that is contained within a facility or well lease boundary, but only if the emergency response plan was not activated, there was no impact to water or public safety, and the licensee immediately took reasonable steps to contain and clean up the release;
- reporting pipeline frac-out releases from horizontal directional drilling, but only if there is no impact or potential impact to a water body or public safety;
- calibrating or proving meters unless related to royalty or custody transfer points;
- providing annual submissions on non-operating glycol dehydrators;
- notifying of sweet flaring and venting, but only if there is no potential impact to the public;
- repairing fugitive emission leaks, but only if the emissions are not causing off-lease odours, are not caused by a failed pilot or ignitor on a flare stack, or are not a safety issue;
- ensuring access to compressor packing vents;
- holding emergency response exercises and submitting updates to emergency response plans;
- conducting packer isolation tests;
- providing triannual fugitive emissions surveys for sweet gas plants and compressor stations, provided they are replaced with an emission screening;
- conducting spring 2020 groundwater or soil monitoring events and analysis for oil field waste management facilities, including landfills;
- conducting laboratory analysis of leachate collection system sampling and leak detection system sampling for oil field waste management facilities; and
- annual testing, for the 2020 calendar year, after a non-serious surface casing vent flow has been reported.
Industry must continue to record and retain complete documentation and make such documentation available to the AER upon request.
Application of the AER clarifications
It is important to note the above AER clarifications apply only to AER regulatory requirements. Environmental permits and reporting requirements administered by AEP are not affected.