More than 60 per cent of Alberta’s land mass is public land, which means it is not privately owned, held by the federal government for a national park, held by the provincial government for a provincial park, or First Nations reserve lands. Much of our province’s oil and gas activity takes place on public land. As Alberta continues to grow and prosper, the amount of oil and gas activity on our public lands will also grow.
The Public Lands Act is provincial legislation that ensures that oil and gas activity—as well as other land-use activity—on public land is done in a way that is safe and orderly and that protects the land for future generations. The Responsible Energy Development Act gives us the authority to administer parts of the Public Lands Act.
What We Regulate Under the Act
We are responsible for administering the Public Lands Act as it relates to approving public land use for oil, gas, oil sands, and coal activity. Simply stated, this authority allows us to regulate the entire life cycle of an energy resource project on public land. We
- ensure that energy resource exploration, development, and ongoing operations on public land are carried out in a responsible manner;
- issue, amend, maintain, and inspect all land-use dispositions and project applications; and
- work closely with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) as co-managers of public lands in Alberta.
Read our fact sheet for more information about how we regulate energy resource development under the Public Lands Act.
Explaining Land-Use Dispositions
Companies wanting to use public land must apply to us for a “formal disposition.” In doing so, the company is expressing its interest in developing resources—in a specific way—on public land for a period of time.
The following are the types of formal dispositions that a company may request from us:
- licence of occupation (LOC)
- mineral surface lease (MSL)
- miscellaneous lease (MLL)
- pipeline agreement (PLA)
- pipeline installation lease (PIL)
- vegetation control easement (RVC)
See the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR) for more detailed information on formal dispositions.
What We Don’t Regulate
Our Public Lands Act responsibilities are specific to energy development. AEP holds authority over all other sectors (agricultural, commercial, industrial, etc.) and is responsible for policy, regulation, and legislation development regarding use of public land.
Please note that we do not accept a renewal application if a disposition has expired. Companies with an expired disposition should email AERSurfaceActivityApplication@aer.ca.
Submit an Application Companies must apply through OneStop for a new formal disposition or to renew or amend an existing one. Review timelines depend on whether an application requires only an automated (baseline) review or also requires a manual review. Factors that determine the level of review include the disposition type, purpose, and activity.
Companies must also use OneStop to apply for a regulator temporary field authorization (RTF; previously temporary field authorization [TFA]). However, the Temporary Field Authorization form, available on AEP’s website, must continue to be used when applying for a temporary field authorization for waivers or reclamation work.
In preparing their disposition applications, companies are encouraged to use the Energy Development Planning Tool (EDPT) to
- determine landscape sensitivities;
- identify the standards and conditions associated with the company’s proposed activity; and
- determine if a wildlife survey is needed to identify sensitive wildlife habitat features or species in the area.
If a wildlife survey is required, companies must include it in their submission. We may also request all wildlife survey documentation at any time.
Other Information to Include
Public Lands Act applications must also include
- a unique File Number of Consultation—created during the application process—and which stage of First Nations consultation the company has reached; and
- consent as per AER Bulletin 2015-02 Consent Submissions for Public Lands Disposition Applications.
Note: we do not review or approve oil sands exploration programs, coal exploration programs, and geophysical applications under this process. Please see Table A2 in the PLAR for more information.
- We share all applications on our Public Notice of Application page to encourage public participation in the approval process.
- Anyone who believes they may be directly and adversely affected by an application can file a statement of concern (SOC). If we receive an SOC, it may take us longer to process the application.
- We will assign the application to a subject matter expert for initial review. If information is missing (i.e., the application is not complete), we will reject the application. Otherwise, we will proceed with a full technical review.
- We may request additional information (through a supplemental information request) to complete our technical review.
- If we reject the application, the applicant may reapply without prejudice. If we deny it, the applicant can file an appeal through our appeal process.
- If we approve the application, we will issue new, amended, or renewal disposition documents, depending on the type of application. The documents will include the following components:
- administrative conditions
- LAT report
- land description
- application supplement (with mitigation if applicable)
- application plan
- condition addendum (if applicable)
- We will email the company to notify them of our decision, which is accessible for 30 days through the Integrated Application Registry. We will also share our decision on our Publication of Decision page.
A new disposition will be granted an initial term of up to 25 years. Upon an amendment or renewal of a disposition, a term of up to 25 years will be considered. Pipelines are exceptions and are not given a specific tenure term. Depending on the purpose and disposition type, the term is subject to change.
Companies that submit amendment applications should note the following:
- Where the application proposes a change to the formal disposition (i.e., change in the disposition area, location, purpose, etc.), new application information will be required.
- Applicants that propose a plan replacement (i.e., no change in the disposition area, location, purpose, etc.) can submit the plan through in OneStop.
Companies must use the following application processes and forms when applying for development under the Public Lands Act.
Application Business Processes
- Coal Exploration Program
- Formal Disposition Renewal
- Oil Sands Exploration
- Right-of-Entry Order Replacements on Public Lands
- Sublease Consent
- Regulator Temporary Field Authorization
- Assignments - Electronic Transfer System (ETS) – developed by Alberta Energy
Many of these forms are hosted by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Visit the AEP's Forms page for more information.
- Application for LSAS Client ID [DOC]
- Conditional Surrender of Lease form (consent to mortgage) [DOC]
- Consent of Occupant – Form B [DOC]
- Consent of Occupant – Form C [DOC]
- General Assignment of Disposition [DOC]
- Memorandum of Agreement – Company [DOC]
- Road-Use Dispute Form [PDF]
- Roadway Watercourse Crossing Inspection Form [PDF]
- Alberta Land Surveyor’s Statutory Declaration [DOC]
- Change to Affidavit of Execution (page 2) [DOC]
- Temporary Field Authorization
We will consider a commercial user’s request to use a road licensed to another person in relation to an energy resource activity if they are unable to reach an agreement for use with the licence holder. We have this authority under section 98 of the Public Lands Administration Regulation and under the Specified Enactments (Jurisdiction) Regulation.
Who can file a request?
A commercial user (as defined in the Public Lands Administration Regulation) may file an application if they
- must use a licensed road for commercial or business activities, and
- have been unsuccessful in reaching an agreement with the holder of the occupation licence (the licensee).
How to File a Request
Commercial users must follow these steps to file a request:
- Complete our Road-Use Dispute – Request for Resolution form.
- Email the form and associated documents to RoadUse@aer.ca, fax it to 403-297-7031, or send it by regular mail to
Alberta Energy Regulator
Law Branch, Road-Use Disputes
Suite 1000, 250 – 5 Street SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 0R4
- Provide a copy of the request to the licensee and any other party we require you to notify.
We may dismiss the request if the information is insufficient or if we consider it
- frivolous, vexatious, or without merit; or
- outside of our jurisdiction.
How to Withdraw a Request
If a commercial user decides to withdraw their request, a letter of withdrawal must be sent to the above address.
Our Dispute Resolution Process
After we have reviewed the request,
- we may seek further information from one or more of the parties;
- we may contact the parties to discuss pursuing a resolution through our alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. and
- if ADR is unsuccessful, the matter may be subject to further proceedings.