This section provides an overview for reserves:

The AER and its predecessors have been providing an independent appraisal of Alberta’s energy resources since 1961. The AER studies hydrocarbon extraction and ensures that energy resources under development are being optimized. The information is used to develop policies, for regional land use planning, and by the energy industry to help evaluate investment opportunities in Alberta.

Reserves are determined for crude bitumen, crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, sulphur, and coal. Until now, the AER used a reserves reporting system called IPACE (Inter-Provincial Advisory Committee on Energy) for uniform terminology and definitions in estimating and publishing hydrocarbon reserves information in Canada. This was adopted in Canada in 1978 to provide consistency between provincial regulators, and the system is still in use for this report. IPACE focuses on conventional reservoirs and does not fully account for the complexities of unconventional plays. Unconventional plays are more complex and uncertain, and probabilistic methods that produce a range of values within a reasonable level of certainty are more appropriate.

In 2015, the AER created a differentiated resource classification system to be used in the future to capture the increased production from the low permeability and shale resources. The resource classification system accounts for both conventional and unconventional resources and gives the AER the flexibility to tailor its reserves evaluation, classification, and reporting procedures according to the unique properties of individual resource types. Six different resource categories are identified within the system: conventional, low permeability, shale, coalbed methane, bitumen, and coal. Each resource category has a unique set of properties and requirements for characterizing the resource and evaluating its reserves and focuses on trapping mechanisms as the means of categorizing unique resource types.

The system criteria are now also being used to assign a resource type to the geological plays defined in Alberta. The AER is moving to a more flexible play-based approach with more probabilistic methods to help capture the uncertainty of unconventional reserves while still providing an unbiased and transparent reporting of Alberta’s hydrocarbon reserves. For the past few years, the AER has been developing subsurface plays based on geological attributes; there are currently over 160 plays identified. The delineations are flexible and evolving, and they might change as more information becomes available.