WITHIN THIS SECTION
Wells are abandoned when they are no longer needed to support oil and gas development or because an operator’s mineral lease has expired. The well must be abandoned to meet the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules and Directive 020: Well Abandonment.
Pipelines that are buried on site can remain in place as long as they are abandoned in accordance with the Pipeline Rules and are at a depth that will not affect the end land use.
Only infrastructure that is considered to be an improvement can be left on the land, and the operator must have the landowner’s written acceptance to do so. An access road left in place for the landowner’s use would be an example.
The operator (licensee) prepares the reclamation certificate application after the above work has been completed and the site has been assessed to meet the applicable criteria based on the end land use and when a professional has signed off on each component (Phase 1 ESA, Phase 2 ESA, Phase 3 remediation report, reclamation assessment) in accordance with Alberta Environment and Parks’s requirements.
The AER follows the standards set out in the Reclamation Criteria for Well Sites and Associated Facilities (see below). The criteria are divided into separate documents for four land uses: cultivated lands, forested lands, native grasslands, and peatlands.
The criteria provide a flexible approach that reduces assessment requirements for simple sites while recommending a greater level of effort for more complex or difficult sites. The criteria place greater emphasis on assessing crop productivity on cultivated land and re-establishing forest, native grassland, and peatland ecosystems.
Reclamation Criteria Documents
These and other documents help explain the reclamation criteria for well sites and associated facilities. For a comprehensive list please see the Wellsite Reclamation Certificate Application Process.
Requirements for Coal and Oil Sands Exploration Programs
The Code of Practice for Exploration Operations has been developed to replace previous approval requirements.
Operators affected by any code must meet all of its requirements to ensure that their activities comply with Alberta's environmental laws.
Oil Sands Exploration (OSE) and Coal Exploration Program (CEP) Annual Report Requirements
The holder of an approved OSE program or CEP on public lands must submit reports in accordance with the approval. These reports must be submitted to email@example.com.
OSE and CEP Reclamation Timelines
OSE and CEP Reclamation Requirements
What is an overlapping exemption?
When a portion of the site is overlapped by another activity and the remaining portion of the site is reclamation certified, the site can be considered for an overlapping exemption. Overlapping exemptions may be used in situations where there are two or more specified-land activities on an area of land. Examples where the AER would consider granting an overlapping exemption include the following:
The AER requires that anyone applying for an overlapping exemption submit a complete Application for Exemption from Requirement to Obtain a Reclamation Certificate Due to Presence of an Overlapping Activity form. For full details on the overlapping exemption policy and what is required in an application, see the Guide to Certification for Site Reductions, Additions, Overlaps, Multi-Well Facilities, and Forced Lease Boundary Changes.
Send applications for an overlapping exemption for private land to RecRemCertApplications@aer.ca.
Send applications for an overlapping exemption for public land through the Electronic Disposition System (account log-in and password required).
Any email to the AER regarding overlapping exemptions must include “overlapping exemptions” in the subject line of the email.
What is liability reduction?
The AER’s Licensee Liability Rating (LLR) program is designed to ensure that operators, not Albertans, address the costs of abandoning and reclaiming upstream oil and gas wells, facilities, pipelines, and their associated sites.
The LLR program is based on a comparison of assets (production or injection activity) to liabilities (abandonment and reclamation costs). When the liabilities outweigh the assets, the company must pay financial security to the AER for the difference.
The AER assesses assets and liabilities to ensure that licensees have the financial health to meet all their abandonment and reclamation obligations later on.
The liability is credited back to the licensee when a reclamation certificate has been issued.
The Certification for Site Reductions, Additions, Overlaps, Multi-Well Facilities, and Forced Lease Boundary Changes includes a section on applying for liability reduction on a multiwell facility when one wellbore is abandoned through the AER’s Digital Data Submission (DDS) system. This guide replaces R&R/12-2 Guide to Certification for Wellsite Reductions, Additions, Overlaps, Multi-Well Facilities, and Forced Lease Boundary Changes.