Upstream Oil and Gas Reclamation & Remediation Program


Upstream Oil and Gas Reclamation & Remediation Program

The Alberta Energy Regulator is responsible for certifying the reclamation of specified land in Alberta.

Program Overview
The upstream oil and gas reclamation and remediation program was developed in consultation with landowners, industry, and other affected stakeholders and ensures that land in Alberta used for oil and gas development is restored to a productive state.

Under this program, all upstream oil and gas sites on private and public land must be reclaimed when a site is no longer productive. (See the multistakeholder committee's recommendations report.)

The AER regulates reclamation activities on both private and public land. A company that owns a well or pipeline that is no longer productive is responsible for reclaiming the land, addressing surface reclamation issues and subsurface contamination, and applying to the AER for a reclamation certificate. Once standards are met, the AER issues the reclamation certificate.

In March 2013, an update report was provided to the Upstream Oil and Gas Reclamation Certificate Program.

Reclamation certificates

Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act requires operators to conserve and reclaim specified land and obtain a reclamation certificate. These certificates are issued to operators when their site has been successfully reclaimed.

The AER accepts applications for reclamation certificates year-round. When a site is no longer productive, the operator applies to the AER for a reclamation certificate. The operator must include an analysis of contamination and a report detailing how contaminants were cleaned and surface issues such as soil replacement and revegetation were addressed.

To ensure that all standards and guidelines have been met, the AER audits a certain percentage of the sites that receive a reclamation certificate. A failed audit can result in the cancellation of reclamation certificates; certificates may also be cancelled following a landowner/occupant complaint, if the site does not meet remediation or reclamation criteria.

Environmental assurance

The legislation prescribes a 25-year liability for surface reclamation issues (topography, vegetation, soil texture, drainage, etc.) and a lifetime liability for contamination.
Industry is required to provide landowners and occupants with copies of all reclamation and remediation information. Landowners or occupants who wish to file a complaint can do so at any time during construction, operation, reclamation, or following reclamation of a site by file a complaint form. All complaints are investigated and substantiated complaints may lead to the cancellation of a reclamation certificate.

Professional sign-off is required for all upstream oil and gas reclamation certificate work.

REDA requires that the public be notified of applications received by the AER. This applies to applications for reclamation certificates. Landowners or occupants may file a statement of concern in response to a notice of application for a reclamation certificate. Also they may file a request for regulatory appeal with the AER if they have concerns with the decision to issue a reclamation certificate.

Drilling Waste Disposal

Assessing Drilling Waste Disposal Areas: Compliance Options for Reclamation Certification [PDF]
Assessing Drilling Waste Disposal Areas - Calculation Tables [XLS]
Assessing Drilling Waste Disposal Areas - Checklist [DOC]

Subsoil Salinity Tool Assessments

To assist the AER in reviewing Subsoil Salinity Tool (SST) assessments in a timely manner, companies are to include the Subsoil Salinity Tool Assessment Checklist [PDF] with their SST assessment submission to the AER. This checklist covers all the information that must be included in an SST assessment. If deficiencies are identified in an SST assessment, the SST assessment will be rejected. The AER will notify the filer via e-mail of the deficiencies and SST assessment rejection. For questions regarding this checklist, contact