WITHIN THIS SECTION
Effective June 21, 2016, the Alberta Energy Regulator has changed the process for submitting, assessing, reviewing, and issuing reclamation certificates.
After reclamation has been completed, the operator or licensee can apply for a reclamation certificate using the AER’s new online tool. If the application is approved and a reclamation certificate is issued, the operator’s Licensee Liability Rating will be adjusted.
Online Submissions Related to Reclamation and Remediation of Well Site, Pipelines, Sweet Gas Plants, Batteries, and OSE/CEP
To find more information about the application process and submission requirements for upstream oil and gas reclamation, refer to the Specified Enactment Direction 002: Direction for Reclamation Application Submissions for Well Sites and Associated Facilities.
The Reclamation Certificate Tool Applicant User Guide provides detailed information on how to submit an application for reclamation certificates.
Before applying for a reclamation certificate, an environmental site assessment (ESA) must be submitted through the online reclamation certificate tool.
The environmental site assessment process is often implemented in phases.
Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments
The primary objective of a Phase 1 ESA is to determine whether a site is or may be contaminated. All well sites and associated facilities require a Phase 1 ESA. A Phase 1 ESA involves evaluating historical and current land use to determine whether a site has potential for contaminants of concern. The main components of a Phase 1 are a records review and a site visit.
A Phase 1 ESA is submitted as part of the reclamation application and must meet the standard specified in the application process.
Once completed, the Phase 1 ESA can be submitted in the new online reclamation certificate tool.
Drilling Waste Disposal
Drilling waste and its associated management including waste disposal can potentially impact a sites contamination status. A drilling waste disposal assessment is part of the Phase 1 ESA. It also includes the following compliance options, calculation tables, and checklist:
Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessments
Phase 2 and Phase 3 ESAs are designed to get information on the nature and extent of contaminants of concern.
A Phase 2 ESA is required if potential contamination was identified in the Phase 1 ESA or there was not enough information to determine the potential for contamination through the Phase 1 ESA process.
Site assessments must be carried out under the supervision of a qualified professional. Doing a Phase 2 ESA requires
The Phase 2 ESA data must be compared to appropriate soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater values in the Alberta Tier 1 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines or Alberta Tier 2 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines.
In a Phase 2 ESA, a delineation of the area of concern and contaminants is used to assess risks and to design options for remediation. Data collected must be compared to appropriate remediation guidelines. Exceedances of guidelines require remediation, risk management options, or further site and risk characterization.
If the guidelines are exceeded, remediation is required.
Once completed, the Phase 2 ESA can be submitted via the online reclamation certificate tool.
Phase 3 Environmental Site Assessments (Remediation Report)
Once a site has been remediated, the operator must confirm that the site meets all applicable remediation guidelines. The Phase 3 ESA demonstrates that the remediation objectives were achieved.
Once completed, the Phase 3 ESA can be submitted via the online reclamation certificate tool.
The licensee is required to give landowners and occupants copies of all reclamation and remediation information 30 days before submitting an application for reclamation certification to the AER.
During this period, landowners and operators are encouraged to discuss the reclamation certificate package and its contents, including the ESAs.
If there are outstanding concerns with the reclamation or remediation of the site, landowners should make that known to the operator.
When applicable, operators must indicate on the reclamation certificate application that a landowner or occupant has concerns about a site.
Once an application has been submitted to the AER, operators are required to notify landowners of the submission and provide them with information on filing a statement of concern.
Statements of Concern
Landowners or occupants may file a statement of concern in response to a notice of application for a reclamation certificate.
Landowners or occupants may also file a request for regulatory appeal with the AER if they have concerns about the decision to issue a reclamation certificate.
The AER has two levels of review for reclamation certificate applications:
Baseline – The baseline review ensures that the application is complete. All applications go through this process, and a notice of application is posted for 30 days. If no statements of concern are received, then the certificate will be automatically issued after the 30 day period.
Additional review – Applications are sent for additional review if they are highly complex or have
AER technical experts will conduct a more detailed review of the application, which may include conducting field inspections, before issuing a decision.
Online Assessment Rules
For the AER, risk is defined as the effect of uncertainty on objectives. It is important for the AER to understand how different risks affect our ability to uphold public safety, protect the environment, and ensure the responsible development of energy across the province.
The AER uses risk assessments to determine the chance of something bad happening (like soil contamination), and, if it does happen, how bad the consequences might be. These assessments can be very complex and mathematical and at other times very simple and straightforward—it all depends on the context.
The AER uses bow tie risk assessments. Learn more about the science behind these types of risk assessments here.
Using Risk to Build Requirements
The AER uses bow tie risk assessments to help us identify where and when we need to take a closer look at a certain activity and how to develop requirements to make sure we are mitigating risks.
Known as “assessment rules,” the requirements the AER develops ensure we spend our time on the things that matter most. The following pages give you an example of what these assessment rules look like and how they are used in the reclamation certificate application process.
The online reclamation certificate tool allows the public and operators to create a variety of customizable reports. For more information on how to build these reports, please see the Application User Guide.