Life-Cycle of Energy Developments
Alberta has a rigorous and transparent regulatory framework designed to ensure that all projects in the upstream oil and gas sector are constructed and operated responsibly. After the ERCB gives approval for a project, a company must continue to meet all regulations and requirements throughout the life-cycle of the operation.
The Applications Branch of the ERCB provides a streamlined approach to processing about 40 000 energy development applications each year. A company must apply for and receive approval from the ERCB before it can begin the construction phase of a project. The entire process, however, begins with the company conducting preliminary work to meet application requirements.
To learn more about the application process, visit the Application Process page.
The ERCB provides suveillance of existing oil and gas developments to ensure the projects are built as applied for and meet onging regulations. The ERCB has nine field centres in Alberta, stretching from High Level in the north to Medicine Hat in the south. ERCB field inspectors monitor industry activity, and Community and Aboriginal Relations staff meet with Albertans and provide information on the ERCB’s regulatory role.
In 2010 the ERCB conducted over 18 000 field inspections/audits, of which 263 (1.4 per cent) were high risk noncompliant.
To find out more on how the ERCB is keeping the public safe, visit the Public Safety page.
The ERCB ensures compliance and provides enforcement to ensure noncompliant events are dealt with and companies effectively bring their operations back into compliance. Industry compliance with ERCB regulations averages more than 98 per cent. In the event a company is found operating outside ERCB regulations, the ERCB will take enforcement action against the company.
If the infraction is minor, the company is required to correct the issue and the operator receives a notice of enforcement on the spot. Information from the field is used to track a company’s record of compliance.
If a company is found to be operating outside of prescribed regulatory rules and regulations, the ERCB field inspectors may, among other options, shut down the operation immediately.
If the company is unable or unwilling to comply with ERCB regulations, the facility may be issued a closure order until they can operate the facility in a safe and responsible manner.
For more information on compliance, see the ERCB’s Compliance & Enforcement page.
End of Life-Cycle
The end of an energy development life-cycle is signified by the suspension, abandonment, remediation, and reclamation of oil and gas infrastructure no longer in use. Through liability management programs and the Orphan Well Association (OWA), the ERCB has requirements in place to help ensure this happens in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
All upstream oil and gas companies that operate in Alberta are responsible for the liabilities associated with the suspension, abandonment, remediation, and reclamation of any of their operations. For more information visit the Liability Management page.