Nonroutine Technical Authorizations

 

Nonroutine Technical Authorizations

Nonroutine-technical (NR-Tech) applications for wells, facilities, and pipelines under Directive 056: Energy Development Applications and Schedules are submitted when technical requirements will not be met, when a variance from regulatory requirements is requested, or when the use of new technology is proposed and there are no outstanding concerns or objections. Equipment spacing waivers, proximity to water bodies, and pipeline discontinuations are common issues requiring the submission of a NR-Tech application. Specific activities such as the construction and operation of sulphur recovery facilities and the drilling and operation of sour critical wells may also be designated by the AER as NR-Tech. NR-Tech applications are reviewed to ensure that applicable regulatory requirements are met before a licence or permit is issued with a focus on the identified NR-Tech issue. Supporting technical information is evaluated to ensure that variances from technical requirements and proposed mitigations are acceptable.

Applicants must have all applicable approvals in place (e.g., surface lease agreements, public lands dispositions, mineral rights) before submitting the application. Additional approvals from the AER or other governmental agencies may be required; please refer to the other application processes for related AER approvals.

Detailed information about NR-Tech applications can be found on the AER’s website. The following outlines the critical information requirements and the process to follow to get approval for any NR-Tech well, pipeline, or facility. It includes links to relevant application submission procedures and guidance documents.

Application Submission

NR-Tech applications (amendment) under Directive 056 must be submitted through electronic applications submission (EAS) using the Digital Data Submissions (DDS) system available under Systems & Tools on the AER website, www.aer.ca.

The application is registered using the Integrated Application Registry (IAR) system and assigned an application number for reference. All material related to the application is stored in this system. Once it has been registered, the details recorded on the application forms are locked and cannot be changed.

The application is routed to the appropriate processing staff based on the processing stream, which is determined by the information recorded on the application forms (e.g., routine versus nonroutine).

Review Process Summary for Nonroutine-Technical Well, Pipeline, and Facility Applications

All NR-Tech applications are automatically published on the Public Notice of Application (PNoA) page of the AER website after registration through IAR. This encourages public participation in the approval process.

Upon receipt at the AER, the application is reviewed initially for administrative completeness. This part of the review ensures that the mandatory documents required for NR-Tech applications have been attached and are relevant to the application. Depending on the type of application, this will include a well survey, pipeline right-of-way and base-plan maps, or facility-plot plan and process-flow diagram as well as the technical documentation needed to support the variance request. The documents required to support a variance request are outlined in the “How To…” sections of Directive 056. Applicants may include additional attachments, such as a cover letter to help in the decision-making process.

Further review is done to determine whether the development is located within the approved Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) areas of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan or South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. If any part of the development is located within one of these areas, the review will determine the appropriateness of issuing an approval in these areas (refer to information requirements in Bulletin 2014-28). The AER has no authority to waive compliance with or vary any restriction, limitation, or requirement about a land area or land use under a regional plan. Applicants that wish to seek this type of relief must apply directly to Alberta’s Land Use Secretariat established under the ALSA.

A detailed review is conducted to ensure that the information presented on the application forms matches the supporting attachments. This review also ensures that the processing path (routine versus nonroutine) is appropriate. Depending on the NR-Tech issue identified, application processing staff may need to engage other AER experts through an internal referral process. Such referrals may extend the time required to process the application.

During the review, it may be necessary to ask the applicant for more information to clarify the information submitted. If further information is required, a supplemental information request (SIR) is sent to the applicant by e-mail with a submission deadline of five business days.

An application may be closed if the SIR response is not received within the specified timeframe, if the application is deficient, if the processing path is incorrect, if details on the application forms are incorrect, if a statement of concern received after application registration is unresolved, or if the mitigation proposed in support of the requested variance is not acceptable. The applicant will be notified by e-mail and is provided with a link to retrieve a copy of the decision. The application may be resubmitted once the closure notice is received.

If the application is deemed technically complete, it will be recommended for approval and sent to a decision-maker for final review and decision. The decision-maker may choose to approve, close, or deny the application, or may return it to staff for further review. The applicant is advised of the decision by e-mail and is provided with a link to retrieve a copy of the decision. The disposition document will be available on IAR Query for 30 days.

Decisions on NR-Tech applications are issued on an expedited basis as set out in the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice.

NR-Tech applications may be subject to a post-approval audit review to ensure that the representations on the application forms meet the regulatory requirements for the design, construction, and operation of the proposed activity, and to identify areas for continuous improvement.

Application Timelines

30 business days