An Integrated Approach to Energy Development
For more than a century, oil and gas development in Alberta has evolved in what often seemed like a random way, in search of energy resources: individual wells were drilled, pipelines were constructed, and development was scattered across the province.
The way we historically regulated development followed the same approach: assessing each application in isolation, one at a time as the applications were submitted.
But times have changed.
Development is no longer single wells dotting the countryside. It now includes multiwell pads where several wells are placed within a compact space, and pipelines run side by side in corridors, all in a scale that is much larger than in the past. Development is of a larger size, scale, and complexity.
Albertans’ expectations have changed, too. They want to know more about what’s going on in the province and where development will occur, how it will happen, and how it affects them from planning to reclamation.
What happens next?
Over the past few years, we have tested this new approach, and the technology built to support it, through a number of different pilots. The results have helped us to refine and improve the approach, and we are now beginning the process of implementing integrated decision-making across the AER. Full implementation will take years.
We started with using the new technology (known as OneStop) to revamp the reclamation certificate process and now we are working to expand the single application single decision approach to include a new system for pipeline applications and public lands.
We are changing the way operators submit those many applications. Instead of many separate items, operators will submit them as an integrated application.
Integrated applications will aim to
Once we receive the integrated application, our technical experts will review the application with the same rigor we use for all energy applications. We will examine any risks associated with the project, including the kind of activity and where it is located, before making any decisions. We also look at how the operator has engaged with the community, landowners, and First Nations or Metis affected by the proposed development.
Once we have completed our review, we will make a decision. If the application meets all AER requirements, we can issue an approval for the project to proceed. But not all applications are approved. In some cases, we place conditions on the approval that an operator must meet.
If the integrated application does not meet our requirements, it may be rejected or sent back for more work.
Want more info?
The AER is committed to being open and transparent throughout this process.