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Effective March 29, 2014, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) assumed responsibilities for remediation and reclamation under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) in addition to its previous responsibilities for suspension and abandonment. The term “closure” refers to all end-of-life activities, including abandonment, remediation, and reclamation. This bulletin provides stakeholders with information on the AER branch, groups, and teams that regulate closure and liability management.
The Closure and Liability Branch of the AER is responsible for liability management, reclamation, and remediation activities related to energy development. The Closure and Liability Branch includes three main groups: in situ, oil and gas, and mining; the operations group provides additional business support. The information below describes areas of responsibility. Key contacts within each group can be found on the AER website, www.aer.ca.
The In Situ Group consists of the following teams.
Land Conservation and Reclamation Team
The Land Conservation and Reclamation Team is responsible for setting authorization conditions for land conservation and for reclamation of facilities requiring an EPEA approval. The team addresses the full life-cycle planning within all energy development sectors requiring EPEA approvals, including oil and gas plants, pipelines, coal mining, oil sands mining, and in situ oil sands developments. The team reviews EPEA applications, conservation and reclamation plans, and annual conservation and reclamation reports, and it is involved in field assessments and inspections to support EPEA authorization processes. The team also reviews applications for reclamation certificates at the end of a project’s life and issues certificates if the site meets the appropriate requirements.
E-mail: EPEA.WA.Plans.Authorizations@aer.ca for plans, proposals, or authorizations required under existing approval conditions
EPEA.Rec.Cert.Applications@aer.ca for requesting reclamation certificates for EPEA -approved facilities
EPEA.WA.Applications@aer.ca for new or amended applications under EPEA requirements
Reclamation Programs Team
The Reclamation Programs Team manages land conservation and reclamation requirements for well sites and facilities throughout the entire life cycle of energy development, from planning to abandonment.
The team manages the Upstream Oil and Gas Reclamation Certificate Program. Once an upstream oil and gas development is decommissioned and abandoned, the operator (as defined in EPEA ) is required to obtain a reclamation certificate. The team issues reclamation certificates when its technical review confirms that the site meets regulatory requirements. The team provides conservation and reclamation compliance by working closely with landowners and industry to resolve public complaints throughout the life of the project and on reclamation-certified sites. It also conducts surface and subsurface audits of reclamation-certified sites to verify that remediation and reclamation requirements have been met.
E-mail: RecRemCertApplications@aer.ca for requesting and providing amendments to reclamation certificates for well sites, pipelines, and coal and oil sands exploration located on private lands (see note below)
RecRemQuestions@aer.ca for general questions related to the Upstream Oil and Gas Reclamation Certificate Program
RegulatoryAppeal@aer.ca for appeals of decisions
Note: The electronic disposition system (EDS) is used to apply for reclamation certificates for well sites, pipelines, and coal and oil sands exploration sites located on public lands.
The Oil and Gas Group consists of the following teams.
Mine Financial Security Program (MFSP) Team
The Mine Financial Security Program Team manages liabilities associated with coal and oil sands mine operations, which includes the following activities:
The team assesses the adequacy of the information provided by approval holders in their annual submissions and audits approval holders to verify that they are meeting program requirements.
E-mail: MFSPSubmissions@aer.ca for questions and submissions related to MFSP
Liability Management Team
The Liability Management Team administers programs that support responsible energy development by having licensees abandon and reclaim wells, facilities, and pipelines while they have adequate resources. Liability management programs, including the Licensee Liability Rating Program, help ensure that Albertans do not bear the costs of abandonment and reclamation when licensees go defunct. These programs work to have liabilities addressed by the responsible licensees. The industry-funded Orphan Fund pays for abandonment and reclamation costs arising from defunct licensees.
E-mail: LiabilityManagement@aer.ca for questions related to liability management
The Abandonment Team administers directives that specify how wells are suspended and eventually abandoned at the end of their lives in a manner that protects the public and the environment. The team provides guidance and technical information to licensees on repairing, suspending, and abandoning wells and on requirements for monitoring wells. The team reviews all nonroutine submissions to verify that well integrity issues have been repaired, zones isolated, and groundwater protected. The team also reviews all nonroutine well abandonment requests.
E-mail: Welloperations@aer.ca for questions or operational requests related to well suspension and abandonment
Aging Infrastructure Initiative Team
The Aging Infrastructure Initiative Team manages the requirements of Directive 079: Surface Development in Proximity to Abandoned Wells to locate, test, and, if necessary, reabandon all applicable wells. The team also leads and coordinates work on aging wells, facilities, and pipelines.
The Mining Group consists of the following teams.
Drilling Waste and Contamination Management Team
The Drilling Waste and Contamination Management Team is responsible for monitoring compliance with Directive 050: Drilling Waste Management requirements for the treatment and disposal of drilling waste. The team reviews the following materials to verify that waste management practices meet requirements that protect the environment and enable sites to be reclaimed:
The team also answers inquiries related to drilling waste management and environmental assessments.
E-mail: Directive050@aer.ca for drilling waste inquiries
Remediation and Contaminated Sites Team
The Remediation and Contaminated Sites Team manages requirements for contaminated sites that protect the public and the environment and help return sites to other productive uses once energy development activities are completed. The team provides technical expertise for spill response, reviews related reports, and evaluates applications to assess the adequacy of the site investigation and the proposed remediation or risk management options. The team also reviews applications, plans, and reports for facilities that require approvals under EPEA, including oil and gas plants, coal mines, oil sands mines, and in situ oil sands developments.
The team also manages the remediation certificate program. The remediation certificate program allows operators to obtain regulatory closure when contaminated sites have been remediated to meet regulatory requirements. The team reviews applications and issues remediation certificates if it determines that a site meets the appropriate requirements.
EPEA.Reports@aer.ca for industry reports (soil, groundwater, etc.)
EPEA.WA.Plans.Authorizations@aer.ca for plans, proposals, or authorizations required by existing approval conditions
RecRemCertApplications@aer.ca for remediation certificate submissions
RecRemQuestions@aer.ca for general remediation questions
The Operations Group supports the Closure and Liability Branch, leading strategic and operational planning and delivering regular reporting on activities and achievements through performance metrics. The team supports the whole branch through process-mapping and documentation; facilitating access to data and information; assessing risk; and identifying, analyzing, and facilitating successful implementation of continuous improvement initiatives.
Questions and inquiries related to closure and liability can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-297-8311.
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Closure and Liability Branch Operations Division
Attachment: Closure and Liability Contacts