It is important to know that AER rules and standards apply to the construction, maintenance, operation, and monitoring of all oil and natural gas development. All producers are required to operate in a safe and responsible manner. The AER has comprehensive surveillance and enforcement processes in place to ensure that its requirements are met.
To address unconventional oil and gas development, the AER employs a wide range of technical experts—geologists, engineers, environmental scientists, and other specialized technical staff—to review this development, not only in Alberta, but also across North America. We are working to better understand the issues associated with unconventional oil and natural gas development, particularly shale gas, and how we can address new technologies with existing or new regulations.
We continually review our current regulations to determine if they must be strengthened or if new rules are required. It’s about clearly understanding the specific challenges and opportunities presented by unconventional development of oil and natural gas in Alberta and then ensuring that regulations are effective.
Since 1938, the AER has drawn upon our technical expertise to focus on public safety, environmental protection, oil and gas conservation, and fairness in regulating the development of Alberta’s energy resources.
Alberta is facing a new era in oil and gas development and the AER is ready to respond to changes in technology with rules and standards that ensure that this development is safe and responsible, the environment is protected, and cumulative impacts are minimized.
REGULATING UNCONVENTIONAL NATURAL GAS AND OIL DEVELOPMENT
The AER will continue its tradition of strong regulatory requirements as companies increase their activities in unconventional natural gas and oil development. Whether it is protecting groundwater, ensuring that drilling waste is handled responsibly, or restricting shallow fracturing operations, the AER currently has a number of directives that ensure the safe and responsible development of all energy resources. The following represent some of the AER’s regulations for unconventional development:
All companies - regardless of whether they are developing conventional or unconventional resources - are subject to all AER directives and rules. As unconventional development increases, the AER is continuing its ongoing review of rules to see if they are appropriate or if changes are required.
CONNECTING WITH ALBERTANS
The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of Alberta’s hydrocarbon resources. To help fulfill this commitment, the AER has a team of highly trained inspectors and technical personnel who undertake thousands of inspections each year to ensure industry compliance.
AER employees live and work in communities across Alberta. Our field centres are found in Medicine Hat, Midnapore, Wainwright, Red Deer, Drayton Valley, Bonnyville, St. Albert, Grande Prairie, and High Level. A regional office serves Fort McMurray, while the Alberta Geological Survey is based in Edmonton and the Core Research Centre is located in Calgary. AER field staff include inspectors who inspect construction and operation on infrastructure such as wells and pipelines, in addition to responding to emergencies. Community and Aboriginal Relations staff members also participate in community meetings and discussions with stakeholders.
Field staff inspect wells, facilities, pipelines, and other energy infrastructure, and when companies fail to meet our stringent regulatory standards, appropriate action is taken. Inspections are based on a three-tiered model: baseline inspections; random inspections; and a prioritized system that takes into account a company’s history, location of the facility, and the type of resource being developed.
Working with technical experts from the AER’s head office in Calgary to serve all of Alberta, the members of our field staff know their neighbours, understand local issues, and can be counted on to respond to your concerns. AER staff regularly engage our stakeholders on all sorts of issues through large community gatherings, open houses, meetings, and kitchen-table chats.