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Rules and Directives

Directive 020: Well Abandonment 

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Release Date: December 6, 2018
Effective Date: December 6, 2018

Replaces the previous edition released on October 24, 2018.
Released with Bulletin 2018-33.

Purpose of this Directive

This directive sets out the minimum requirements for abandonments, casing removal, zonal abandonments, and plug backs as required under section 3.013 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules. The objective of a well abandonment is to cover all nonsaline groundwater (water with total dissolved solids less than 4000 milligrams per litre) and to isolate or cover all porous zones. All open-hole and cased-hole abandonments must be conducted in accordance with the requirements in this directive.


  • Well status (set through Petrinex) and licence status (set through the Digital Data Submission system) should align. For a list of valid combinations, refer to the well/licence status matrix link under Attachments below.
  • Directive 020 requires that all completed zones in a well be segregated at the time of abandonment, even if the production was through a common wellbore (i.e., commingled). The AER is currently running a pilot project to allow certain lower risk zones that were produced together to be abandoned together if it poses no risk to the public or the environment. For more information, see the Area-Based Closure webpage.

The table below sets out the designated information submission system to use when submitting information under Directive 020. In addition to using the designated information submission system indicated below, nonroutine requests and the required supporting information must also be submitted to

Item (section of directive) Designated Information Submission System
Obtaining approval for nonroutine abandonment operations (section 2.1) DDS > AER > Submissions > Licence Abandonment > Non-routine Well Abandonment
AER notification (section 2.2) DDS > AER > Notifications > Field Surveillance
AER reporting requirements – surface casing vent flow/ gas migration (section 2.3) DDS > AER > Incidents > Surface Casing Vent Flow/Gas Migration
AER reporting requirements – casing failure (section 2.3) DDS > AER > Incidents > Casing Failure
AER reporting requirements – surface abandonments (section 2.3) OneStop > Close > Abandonment >  Wells
Leaking wells/Lowering casing stubs (section 3.3) OneStop > Close > Abandonment >  Wells
Gas migration testing for open- and cased-hole wells (section 7.1) DDS > AER > Incidents > Surface Casing Vent Flow/Gas Migration
Fluid level test for open-hole wells (section 7.2) DDS > AER > Submissions > Licence Abandonment > Non-routine Well Abandonment
Surface casing vent flow test for cased-hole wells (section 7.3) DDS > AER > Incidents > Surface Casing Vent Flow/Gas Migration
Surface abandonment (section 8) OneStop > Close > Abandonment >  Wells

 Well / Licence Status Matrix (updated April 2012)