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AER’s annual report shows how the energy industry uses water

Alberta - February 08, 2022

Day-to-day, there are several things we would probably prefer not to monitor: steps (not) taken, screen time, cups of coffee, errands to run – and the list goes on. However, at the AER - we love numbers!

“It's our job to encourage Alberta's energy industry to use water resources responsibly and to identify where there is room for improvement,” says Andre Bachteram, Lead, Industry Performance. “Our annual industry water use report takes the data we have and analyzes it to report back to Albertans about how energy companies use water throughout the life cycles of their projects and activities.”

Our Alberta Water Use Performance Report shows how water is allocated and used to recover oil, gas, and oil sands resources.

Know before you go

  1. What’s included
    The Alberta Energy Industry Water Use Performance Report looks at four extraction methods – oil sands mining, in situ recovery, enhanced oil recovery, and hydraulic fracturing.
  2. Know the difference
    Allocation data for shallow groundwater and deep groundwater have been separated. Separating this data more accurately represents a comparison of availability to allocation data, since availability data is only available for shallow groundwater.
  3. Diving right in
    Despite being one of Alberta’s biggest industries, oil and gas development accounts for a small part of the province’s water use. Across the Alberta energy industry, companies are using much less nonsaline water than what is allocated to them.
    Water allocation diagram
  4. Across the industry
    The energy industry used about 26 per cent of their allocation, which is less than 0.22 per cent of Alberta’s available nonsaline water. Of the water used for oil, gas and bitumen extraction, 77 per cent of it was recycled water.

    In 2020, the energy industry was allocated 13 per cent of all nonsaline water allocation in Alberta; the remainder of the water set aside for use was allocated to other industries, such as agriculture, forestry, commercial enterprises, and municipalities.
    Water recycling diagram
  5. There’s always room for improvement
    While companies in Alberta have made considerable efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle water, the AER believes that publicly reporting on water improves performance and encourages companies to continue using water efficiently.

For our fellow data-fanatics, all the numbers can be found on our Water Use Performance webpage.

Reporting Back
This annual report is part of our larger industry performance program, which measures, evaluates, and reports on the energy development activities that we regulate. Under the Industry Performance Program, it’s our responsibility to hold companies accountable for their decisions and actions, drive companies to improve their performance, and share more information with Albertans.

Ottilie Coldbeck, Writer