AER Focus Newsletter

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February 2016

AER Focus is a quarterly newsletter meant to inform our public, industry, and other stakeholders of Alberta Energy Regulator initiatives and activities that support our vision of becoming a best-in-class regulator.

Chevron Aspiring to Become More: Our Path to Regulatory Excellence

Jim Ellis
Jim Ellis, President and CEO

The AER has moved fast the last few years, and at times it’s been a wild ride.

We’ve built a new regulator and crafted a strategic plan with defined outcomes and measures. This, in addition to our core work of making sure that oil and gas development is safe, the environment is protected, and our requirements are being followed.

Doing our day-to-day work—and doing it well—is important, but no one aspires to be average and the AER is no different. We want be an organization that represents excellence in energy regulation, which is what Albertans expect and deserve.

We’ve worked closely with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Program on Regulation to develop a model and test it with our employees and many stakeholders. This model will guide our work in 2016 and the years to come and help us become a regulator that has utmost integrity, stellar competence, and empathic engagement—the three attributes of an excellent regulator.

Our world has changed significantly over the past decade, and we must keep pace to be a good regulator, let alone an excellent one. A decade ago, the ones who had concerns were local stakeholders, often those directly impacted by development. Today the global community questions the use of fossil fuels and demands action on climate change.

Added to this are advances in technology, driving multistage hydraulic fracturing and in situ development to the forefront as single wells are replaced with large-scale projects that bring new challenges, risks, and opportunities.

If Alberta is to address the issues that come with new technology, meet the expectations of a changing society, and compete in the global market, the AER must continue to change, seek excellence, and work with Albertans to manage our energy resources today and beyond.

We are currently developing our action plan to achieve excellence. This plan will include

  • consistent processes across the AER,
  • a strong culture of leadership and accountability among all our employees,
  • new regulatory approaches that consider the full context of energy development, and
  • measurable outcomes around public safety, environmental protection, cumulative effects management, efficiency, public confidence, credibility, and Alberta’s competitiveness.

I’m confident that we’ll achieve excellence because of the innovative spirit of our organization and our people.

It’s this spirit that will allow the AER to create a new compliance and enforcement system, build new relationships with stakeholders, and communicate in an entirely new way with Albertans.

Regulatory Excellence DiagramWe know that no strategy, project, or vision alone will deliver the results we’re seeking. It will take the sum of our work, it will take time, and it will take the commitment of every one of us at the AER. I believe we’re up for the challenge and on track to becoming an excellent regulator that protects what matters most to Albertans—safety, the environment, our way of life, and our province’s future.

Regulatory Excellence Quote

Gold Chevron Building Bridges to Mexico—The AER Welcomes Continental Partners in Regulatory Excellence

While the sun, sand, and surf may separate Alberta from Mexico, the two have more in common than you’d think, especially when it comes to developing, managing, and regulating energy resources.

A recent visit to Calgary by Mexican energy officials confirmed these common interests and shone the spotlight on the growing partnership between Canada and Mexico.

For two days in early December 2015, the AER, along with the Governments of Alberta and Canada and various oil and gas companies, welcomed senior officials, including Mexico’s Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell and the National Hydrocarbons Commission‘s president, Juan Carlos Zepeda Molina.

In all, 11 high-ranking members of Mexico’s government and energy regulatory agencies travelled to Calgary to explore opportunities for talent and technical development, discuss regulatory issues, and meet with companies that could do business with Mexico in the future.

“Having a senior-level delegation from Mexico signals a clear recognition of the AER’s standing in the world,” said Zeeshan Syed, vice-president, National/International Stakeholder and Government Relations. “It’s an important step towards continental regulatory integration and excellence.”

During the whirlwind visit, the AER invited the delegation to a welcome reception, two regulatory workshops, and a guided tour of the AER’s Core Research Centre.

Cecilia Villanueva Bracho, Mexican Consul to Calgary and a member of the visiting delegation, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity and thanked the AER for an “amazing reception” and a “productive agenda,” clearly signaling the program’s success. She stressed that “it is very uncommon for a delegation of this type to come to Canada, which clearly demonstrates trust in the AER.”

The AER will continue to share expertise and help other jurisdictions understand and apply regulatory approaches. Together, these partnerships will help the AER to improve its own regulatory system, elevate best practices globally, earn credibility, and learn from others.

Gold Chevron Employee Spotlight – Christine Behr-Roberts


Christine Behr RobertsThe AER is getting animated with a new, award-winning video series to connect with Albertans who want to learn about energy development. Christine Behr-Roberts, project lead for Conversations That Matter, took a few moments to tell us about the concept.

Q: What was the intent behind Conversations that Matter?

There has always been a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about certain energy-related topics, like the oil sands. Our research with stakeholders over the last decade told us that we needed a new way to communicate the facts about oil sands, along with the AER’s role in energy development in Alberta.

Q: Why should Albertans tune in?

Albertans have asked for clear, straightforward information about oil and gas activity and how the AER is involved in protecting what matters most—people and the environment. Using storytelling and conversational language to deliver the facts in a fun way, we’re able to eliminate confusion, dispel myths, and make complicated or technical topics accessible to everyone.

Q: What’s the response been, both from inside and outside the organization?

We’re really excited about the response. At the AER, many employees have incorporated the short videos into their own work through presentations and events. Outside our walls, people have commented that they really appreciate the information and how simple and easy it is to understand.

Q: So far, you’ve created four Conversations that Matter—can we expect more?

As long as Albertans have questions, we’ll continue to talk, and sketch our way through the answers. There is plenty more to chat about, including in situ extraction and hydraulic fracturing. We encourage feedback from everyone as we develop new topics and introduce new characters. People can check out the videos on our YouTube channel and keep an eye out for the next conversation in the series.