Special Well Spacing - Quick


Special Well Spacing - Quick

Well spacing defines the number of subsurface drainage locations necessary to maximize hydrocarbon recovery from a pool or formation. Spacing regulations promote conservation through efficient and orderly development of reservoirs, and protect equity among mineral rights owners.

As prescribed in part 4 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules (OGCR), standard drilling spacing units (DSUs) are one section of land for a gas well and a quarter section for an oil well. Baseline well densities for standard DSUs are prescribed in section 4.021 of the OGCR and vary depending on the substance, production source, formation, and area of the province from which oil or gas is being produced. Under section 79(4) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (OGCA), the AER will consider an application for special well spacing that would allow for an increase in well density from the baseline.

Under section 4.040(3) of the OGCR, special well spacing applications must demonstrate that

  • recovery will be improved,
  • additional wells are necessary to provide capacity to drain the pool at a reasonable rate without adverse effect on resource conservation, or
  • the spacing has already been substantially established in a pool, and the proposed spacing provisions are equal to or more restrictive than the established pool spacing.

Approval of special well spacing does not authorize the drilling of any wells nor the construction of any related facilities. Additional approvals from the AER or other government agency are also required in order to drill wells for the production of oil or gas. ]

Holdings and units must be composed of whole and contiguous DSUs, and the ownership must be considered common at both the lessor and lessee levels in accordance with section 1.020(2)(4) of the OGCR  and unit 7 of Directive 065. A block of land containing multiple, contiguous DSUs of common ownership may be developed without a special well spacing approval, limited only by the standard target area on the external boundaries of that block of land, as long as the baseline well density per DSU is not exceeded for that area or strata.
The following outlines the process to follow to get approval for quick spacing applications. It includes links to application submission procedures and guidance documents.

Application Submission

The applicant will submit its quick spacing application through electronic applications submission (EAS). Applications are registered using the Integrated Application Registry (IAR), and all material related to an application is stored in this system.  

Review Proces for Quick Spacing Applications

After the application is received, it will be reviewed for completeness under Directive 065 requirements and as further clarified in the explanatory notes in appendix I of Directive 065. If the application is determined to be incomplete, the application will be closed with an explanation. If the application is determined to be complete, a technical review will be conducted as follows:

  • Notice of all applications will be published on the Public Notice of Application page on the AER website to encourage public participation throughout the application process. This is in addition to any notification requirements an applicant must fulfill before submitting an application.
  • A person who believes they may be directly and adversely affected by an application may file a statement of concern (SOC) with the AER.
  • If an SOC about an application is received, the application is considered “Non-Routine” and must follow the AER’s SOC procedures and will not be subject to the application timeline.
  • Staff will review new spacing applications in accordance with the “quick application path” criteria in section 7.4.1 of Directive 065. Applications to modify spacing and rescind spacing will be reviewed in accordance with the criteria in sections,, and of Directive 065.
  • If clarification or additional information is required, you might receive an e-mail request for more information.
  • A disposition document will be generated for complete applications that meet Directive 065’s “quick” criteria.
  • If an application does not meet Directive 065’s “quick” criteria, it will be closed.
  • You will receive an e-mail notification when your application has been dispositioned. You can find the disposition by following the link provided in the notification e-mail for 30 days after the date of disposition.
  • After the 30-day period, the disposition document and a copy of the application documents can be ordered through the AER’s Information Distribution Services Group at InformationRequest@aer.ca or (403) 297-8311.
  • Some decisions on the application can be appealed by eligible persons based on the Responsible Energy Development Act. The filing requirements for a request for regulatory appeal, including form, content, and time limits, are set out in section 30 of the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice. The regulatory appeals procedures are set out in sections 30 through 33 of the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice.

Application Timelines

The processing time for this application is 20 calendar days.