Legal Header

Project Application

For more than a century, oil and gas development in Alberta evolved in what often seemed like a random way: individual wells were drilled, pipelines were constructed, and development was scattered across the province. We regulated development in isolation, assessing each application as it was submitted—one at a time.

But times have changed. Development no longer means single wells dotting the countryside. It now includes multiwell pads with several wells placed in a small area, and pipelines lined up in corridors—in a scale that is much larger than in the past.

Albertans’ expectations have also changed. They want to know more about where development will occur, how it will happen, and how it might affect them—and they want to be part of those discussions.

Our New Approach: One Application, One Review, One Decision

We’re changing the way we regulate—our processes, the way we make decisions, and the way we communicate with our stakeholders—by looking at the entire life cycle of an energy project. This transformation starts by changing the way operators submit their applications to us. Instead of submitting several separate applications for each project activity, operators will submit one integrated application that covers activities over the life of the project. We will review all aspects of a proposed development at the same time and make one decision.

Since 2014, we’ve been developing and testing this Integrated Decision Approach and the OneStop technology we built to support it. A series of pilot projects have helped us to refine and improve the approach. And now, we are beginning the process of implementing integrated decision making across our organization, with full implementation expected to take years.

How It Will Work

  1. Companies will submit integrated applications and through OneStop. An integrated application will
    • include all elements that are needed to complete an energy development—from start to finish—including all construction plans, details about how the development will operate, and plans for how and when the development will eventually be shut down and the land will be reclaimed; and
    • provide details for a variety of project activities, such as development of a single well, pipeline, or facility, or a larger, more complex project that includes multiple activities.
  2. Once we’ve received the application, we will review it with the same rigour we use for all energy applications. We will examine any risks associated with the project, including those related to the kind of activity and where it is located. We’ll also look at how the operator has engaged with the community, landowners, and indigenous communities with potential to be affected by the proposed development.
  3. We will make a decision at the end of our review:
    • If the application meets all of our requirements, we will issue an approval for the project to proceed. In some cases, we place conditions on the approval that an operator must meet. We may also flag applications so that our experts can conduct additional monitoring or inspections at critical points over the life cycle of the project.  
    • If the integrated application does not meet our requirements, it may be rejected or sent back to the applicant for more work.

What’s Currently Being Reviewed Through OneStop

We first started using OneStop to revamp the reclamation certificate application process and later started using it to accept pipeline and Water Act applications. Now we are working to expand the single application–single decision approach to include public lands applications and inspections and audits

Click on the links below for more information about how our integrated review process applies to the following applications: