Alberta Government Suspends Certain Reporting and Inspection Requirements Under Specified Energy Enactments, Rules, Directives, Approvals and Licences in Response to COVID-19

April 9, 2020

The Alberta Government recently released an issued Ministerial Order, suspending certain reporting requirements arising under each of the Coal Conservation Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and the Oil Sands Conservation Act, including certain reporting and inspection requirements arising under Rules, Licenses, Approvals and Alberta Energy Regulator Directives. Stikeman Elliott has provided a general overview of the impending changes as per the Applicable Ministerial Order.

On April 6, 2020, under authority arising from its previous declaration, under Ministerial Order 080/2020 of a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta Government issued Ministerial Order MO 219/2020 (MO 219/2020) suspending certain reporting and inspection requirements arising under each of the Coal Conservation Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and the Oil Sands Conservation Act (collectively “Energy Enactments”). Including suspending certain reporting requirements arising under Energy Enactment Rules, Directives, Approvals and Licenses.

In issuing this order, the Minster of Energy recognized the challenges and hardship industry in Alberta is facing having to comply with certain routine reporting and inspection requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Coal Conservation Act

Annual reporting required under section 65(2)(a) and (b) of the Coal Conservation Rules is suspended. This suspends the requirement for a holder of a permit to develop a mine site or the holder of a licence to operate a mine to submit to the AER: in the third quarter of the calendar year, a mine plan for the follow year; and in the first quarter of each calendar year a report describing the general progress of mining at the mine and the general progress of abandonment and reclamation of the mine.

Exploration Reporting under section 40 of the Coal Conservation Rules is suspended. This suspends the requirement for a holder of a permit, licence or approval issued under the Coal Conservation Act to submit to the AER either annually or at the conclusion of an exploration program, a report on the coal exploration activities conducted during the year.

All plans specified in conditions contained in Approvals issued under the Coal Conservation Act, excluding Approval conditions related to geotechnical reporting requirements, are suspended.

Oil and Gas Conservation Act

All reporting of deliverability, annual and initial reservoir pressure surveys for resource conservation including enhanced oil recovery, disposal, oil and gas production depletion strategy, including pool delineation that is required under AER Directive 040: Pressure and Deliverability Testing Oil and Gas Wells and section 11.102 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules are suspended.

All annual progress reports and performance presentations required under AER Directive 065: Resource Applications for Oil and Gas Reservoirs scheme Approvals (specifically section 2.1.4.1 of Directive 065) and section 39 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act are suspended.

The requirement to submit well logs and summary reports to the AER under AER Directive 080: Well Logging (section 7.2 of Directive 080) and sections 11.005 and 11.140 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules are suspended.

The following requirements arising under AER Directive 013: Suspension Requirements for Wells and section 3.020 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules are suspended:

  • active wells that are not part of the Inactive Well Compliance Program – the initial suspension requirements in AER Directive 013 for all wells considered as low-risk and medium-risk type 6;
  • active wells that are not part of the Inactive Well Compliance Program – on-going inspection requirements outlined in AER Directive 013 for all wells considered as low and medium risk; and
  • inactive wells that are part of the Inactive Well Compliance Program – the compliance deadline for the final year of the program.

Oil Sands Conservation Act

All of the following reporting requirements to the AER under either or both of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules and under Approvals issued under the Oil Sands Conservation Act are suspended:

  • annual mine plans under section 30 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules;
  • reporting of mining operations under section 31 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules;
  • report of operations under section 58 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules;
  • annual geotechnical report under section 32 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules; and
  • all plans specified in conditions contained in Approvals issued under the Oil Sands Conservation Act, excluding Approval conditions related to geotechnical reporting requirements.

Continuing Obligations

MO 219/2020 is express that other than those reporting and inspection requirements suspended under the order, all other reporting and inspection requirements required under the Energy Enactments and Energy Enactment Rules, Directives, Approvals and Licenses continue. Additionally, and notwithstanding the suspension of the specified inspection and reporting requirements, all required reporting information is to continue to be recorded and retained.

Term of the Suspension

The suspension of the specified reporting and inspection requirements will remain in effect, unless continued by further Ministerial Order, until the earliest of: August 14, 2020; 60 days after the date upon which the declaration of public health emergency has been terminated; or when MO 219/2020 is terminated.

DISCLAIMER: This publication is intended to convey general information about legal issues and developments as of the indicated date. It does not constitute legal advice and must not be treated or relied on as such. Please read our full disclaimer at www.stikeman.com/legal-notice.

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