Bulletin 2016-32

Bulletin 2016-32: Release of Directive 086: Reservoir Containment Application Requirements for Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage Projects in the Shallow Athabasca Oil Sands Area

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Release of Directive 086: Reservoir Containment Application Requirements for Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage Projects in the Shallow Athabasca Oil Sands Area

Dec 16, 2016

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has released Directive 086: Reservoir Containment Application Requirements for Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage Projects in the Shallow Athabasca Oil Sands Area. A draft of the directive was released for stakeholder feedback on October 13, 2015. The feedback period closed on December 31, 2015. A summary of the feedback and the AER’s response is available on www.aer.ca.

The directive becomes effective on December 16, 2016, and applies to all in situ steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) projects in the designated shallow area of the Athabasca Oil Sands Area of Alberta (defined in figure 1 of the directive). The shallow area is defined as where the net bitumen pay in the Wabiskaw-McMurray deposit is greater than zero and the Lower Clearwater shale is either shallower than 150 m at its base or is completely eroded.

This directive was developed in response to a steam release incident located within the shallow Athabasca Oil Sands Area caused by a loss of caprock integrity (see the report on this incident on our website, http://www.aer.ca/documents/reports/ERCB_StaffReport_JoslynSteamRelease_2010-02.pdf ). The directive protects caprock integrity by providing requirements around maximum operating pressure and caprock criteria. The intent is to ensure caprock integrity throughout the lifetime of in situ operations. Throughout the drafting of the directive, the AER has worked with Alberta Health, Alberta Energy, Alberta Environment and Parks, academia, industry, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and indigenous communities.

AER Bulletin 2014-03: Regulatory Approach for Shallow Thermal In Situ Oil Sands Applications in the Wabiskaw-McMurray Deposit of the Athabasca Oil Sands Area, which stated that the AER would defer decisions on applications that do not satisfy the criteria outlined in the bulletin until the AER develops fully consulted and technically supported requirements for determination of caprock integrity and maximum operating pressure, will be rescinded as of the effective date of the new directive.

Directive 086 is available on the AER website, www.aer.ca. Printed copies of the directive can be purchased from AER Order Fulfillment, Suite 1000, 250 – 5 Street SW; telephone: 403-297-8311; fax: 403-297-7040; e-mail InformationRequest@aer.ca.

<original signed by>

Kirk Bailey
Executive Vice President
Operations