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Subsection 15(2) of the Oil Sands Conservation Regulations provided for the release of information or data 10 years after an applicant completes an experimental oil sands operation. Similarly, subsection 12.150(8) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Regulations provided for the release of information or data 5 years after completing an experiment in conventional oil and gas operations. The Board undertook an internal review of these regulations some time ago after recognizing that the pace of technological change has accelerated, and that the uncertainty of sitespecific properties is the primary reason for classifying some operations as experimental.
The Board concluded that, in some cases, shorter confidentiality periods would avoid duplication of experimental operations and would promote the development of Alberta's hydrocarbon resources. To this end, the Board has specified shorter confidentiality periods in its approvals for some experimental schemes. For example, cyclic steam stimulation was initially given the full confidential period, but as the technology became established, the Board reduced the term of the confidentiality period. Likewise, shorter periods have been specified for other near-well phenomena in oil sands operations such as electromagnetic stimulations and horizontal wellbores. For conventional oil and gas operations involving horizontal completions, experimental status is granted for 2 years, after which all data and information is released.
To have the regulations agree with its current practice, and to simplify its administration of these provisions, the Board asked the industry associations for their views on the changes to the regulations. Having received and considered those views, the Board has revised its administrative procedures as outlined below and the regulations have been amended as shown on the attachment.
While retaining the existing provisions for 10-year and 5-year confidentiality periods, and an extension clause, the regulations have been amended to provide flexibility. The duration of confidentiality is to be addressed by the operator, at the time of application. It is to be decided upon by the Board after considering:
Existing experimental oil or gas schemes, whose prior approvals have no specified confidentiality periods, are "grandfathered" to conform with the regulation at the time of approval. No changes will be made to confidential periods that have been set for existing experimental oil sands schemes.
Some information obtained during the experimental operations (e.g. well logs, core analyses, and fluid analyses) will not be confidential under the terms of the experimental scheme confidentiality provisions, unless otherwise specifically addressed. For most schemes this information will remain confidential in accordance with existing regulations. When specifically addressed in an approval, this information would usually be confidential for the term of the experimental approval or the duration of experimental operations.
Experimental schemes involving novel design considerations or operating techniques may lead to the development of information of special proprietary value. Although useful to the Board staff in its examinations of the technical merit of the experimental test program, this kind of information would not only be considered of general public interest and need not be made part of an application. It should, however, be submitted as confidential information, to be made part of the progress report documentation. It would then be given the same confidential status as progress reports. For this purpose, proprietary information is limited to specific design details. All other information, describing the scheme and detailing its experimental nature, is deemed to be a routine component of an experimental scheme application and is not considered proprietary.
The amended regulations become effective immediately.
<original signed by>
N. G. Berndtsson, P.Eng.