Before oil and gas companies can pull resources from the ground, they must gain permission to use the land. In Alberta, this means approaching the person who owns it and proposing an agreement. Landowners (or occupants) often enter into private surface agreements (PSAs), which allow energy companies to construct and operate energy developments on their land.
What is a private surface agreement?
A PSA is a written, signed, and dated contract between a landowner and an energy company. The contract outlines how the company is permitted to access and use the land. In most cases, these agreements are clear and both parties understand their rights and responsibilities.
If there are misunderstandings between the landowner and the company (e.g., the landowner feels the company is not meeting a term or condition of the PSA), we can help resolve those concerns if the landowner has registered the PSA with the AER through our Private Surface Agreements Registry (PSAR).
How to Register
If you are a landowner, you may register a PSA if you
- own or occupy land where an energy development exists or is proposed, and
- have entered into a PSA with a company after November 30, 2013.
We will review the form and PSA and, if it can be registered, send you a confirmation letter with a reference number. You will need this reference number to make more submissions on your PSA. We will also send a copy of the registered PSA to the company.
Please note: all documents we receive are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This means that anyone can request a copy of a registered PSA. When you submit your PSA, you will be asked to confirm that you understand that it may be available to the public.
Why Register With the Private Surface Agreements Registry
If a landowner in a PSA has concerns, we can help determine whether the company has met a term or condition of the agreement. Landowners should submit a request under section 64 of the Responsible Energy Development Act using the section 64 request form. See our how-to guide and questions and answers for more information.
We will investigate the landowner’s concerns and will order the company to comply if it’s not following the agreement.
Tools for Landowners
In addition to the PSAR, landowners have other options to resolve an issue with a company operating on their land. They can
- contact the company directly;
- file a complaint with the AER and wait for response from one of our field centres; or
- request alternative dispute resolution—a process that includes negotiation, AER-led mediation, or independent third-party mediation.
Read our questions and answers and EnerFAQs The AER and You: Agreements, Commitments, and Conditions for additional information.
If you have questions about PSAs, the PSAR, or the support we provide, please contact our Customer Contact Centre.