Compliance and Enforcement Tools

 

Compliance and Enforcement Tools

The AER’s role in public safety and environmental protection is based on comprehensive rules, regulations, and requirements. These rules and regulations cover all aspects of industry activity, including exploration, construction, operations, and decommissioning of facilities.

The AER enforces its requirements by monitoring industry activity and acting on instances of regulatory noncompliance. The level of enforcement is determined by the severity of noncompliance and will be escalated if required.

By varying levels of enforcement, the AER ensures a fair, firm, and consistent approach in all noncompliance situations. If a company deliberately or repeatedly fails to meet AER requirements, enforcement actions escalate and penalties become more severe. The AER works with stakeholders to ensure that requirements are clearly understood.

The AER has a variety of compliance and enforcement tools available under its energy resource and specified enactments to compel compliance and to correct and deter future noncompliance. The AER tries to use the most appropriate tool fit for the purpose.

Tools include:

Notice of Noncompliance

A notice of noncompliance notifies an energy operator in writing that they are in noncompliance with a specific requirement and often recommends a course of action in order to come into compliance.

The AER issues a notice of noncompliance for any noncompliance relating to energy resource and specified enactments.

Warning

A warning is one of the results of an investigation. Similar to a notice of noncompliance it forms an important part of a company’s compliance and enforcement history.

Orders

Orders are written documents issued by the AER that require energy operators to address noncompliance issues. The AER can issue a variety of orders, including environmental protection orders, suspension orders, and administrative orders.

Orders are effective for

  • ensuring that no regulated party benefits from not complying,
  • deterring noncompliance for other regulated parties, and
  • responding quickly to prevent or stop actual or potential impact on the environment, public safety, or orderly development.

Administrative sanctions

Administrative Sanctions can vary from restricting certain activities to total suspension or cancellation of an approval.

Fees

Fees are intended to cover the administrative costs associated with late-filed information or with correcting data discrepancies in submissions. A schedule of fees can be found in the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules. Regulated parties that continually are subject to fees may be subject to additional compliance and enforcement tools.

Administrative penalties

Fines known as administrative penalties can be imposed by the AER against energy operators that fail to comply with specific regulations, acts, or rules, or with the terms of their approval. These administrative penalties can ONLY be issued for noncompliances of the specific legislation for which the AER has authority, for instance the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, the Pipeline Act, or where the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act or the Water Act applies to energy development.

Prosecution

Prosecution is a court proceeding initiated against an energy operator, an individual, or a corporation alleged to have committed an offence under either the energy resource or specified enactments or both.

The AER will consider prosecution when:

  • Previous enforcement has been ineffective in changing the operator’s behaviour,
  • The action of the offender was willful or negligent.
  • There is significant harm to the environment.
  • The lives or safety of people were endangered, or there was potential for the lives or safety of people to be endangered.
  • The noncompliance was committed to achieve a competitive advantage.
  • The noncompliance undermines the integrity of the regulatory system.

Declaration of a named individual

Under section 106 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act or section 51 of the Pipeline Act, the AER may issue a declaration naming individuals in control of an energy operator that failed to comply with an AER order or that has an outstanding debt to the AER or the orphan fund. When a declaration is issued, the AER can prevent a person or company that continually breaches AER requirements from owning or operating an energy company in Alberta.

The Compliance Dashboard demonstrates how the AER is involved in incident response, investigations, compliance, and enforcement. The AER also publishes a number of educational resources—presentations, FAQs, brochures, and guidance information—that relate to AER directives, rules, and regulations.