December 7, 2010
Enhancing the ERCB Role in Energy Technology Development
The mission of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) is to ensure that the discovery, development, and delivery of Alberta’s energy resources take place in a manner that is fair, responsible, and in the public interest. To help it achieve its mission, the ERCB believes that the appropriate use of innovative technologies has the potential to improve the efficiency of resource recovery and reduce the environmental and social impacts of energy development.
In this context, the ERCB is committed to working with industry and other stakeholders to identify ways to accelerate the demonstration and deployment of new technologies while still achieving its mission. While the ERCB is not in the business of prescribing or mandating which technology should be used, the ERCB will continue to assess and, if appropriate, approve applications which might include new and/or innovative technologies as long as the application meets the ERCB’s mandated outcomes.
The Government of Alberta recently released Energizing Investment—A Framework to Improve Alberta’s Natural Gas and Conventional Oil Competitiveness, which contains the results of its competitiveness review for natural gas and conventional oil. Key findings of the review were that Alberta needs to remain competitive by
- balancing the fiscal regime,
- driving innovation to enhance productivity,
- improving the regulatory system, and
- strengthening a productive partnership with industry.
The Government of Alberta recognized that it needs to do better at enabling technology deployment in the upstream energy resources industry (including the oil, gas, oil sands and coal sectors). It committed to provide greater regulatory flexibility for the use of technologies in upstream development. Considerations will include ways to better support pilot projects, and ways of better assessing the real risks of new technologies and approaches.
Proposed ERCB Enhancements
To facilitate responsible testing and timely deployment of innovative technology in the upstream oil and gas industry, the ERCB has committed to undertake the following:
- Collaborate with government departments and agencies and/or not-for-profit organizations to assess the technical validity and potential commercial viability of innovative technology, permitting the ERCB to focus on evaluating any possible regulatory risks of a particular innovation’s use. The ERCB is currently in discussions with various Government of Alberta departments and agencies, including the Alberta Department of Energy, Alberta Innovates (Technology Futures and Energy and Environment Solutions), and the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada.
- Develop an internal ERCB process to identify areas in which technology may play an important role in addressing future opportunities, issues, risks, or impacts that the ERCB feels industry or government researchers should be focusing on, enabling the ERCB to provide advice in these areas if requested.
- Establish an internal point of contact (ERCB Chief Operations Engineer) to assist external parties and proponents of innovative technology through regulatory review and decision points to provide a means of early identification for instances in which a new or proposed innovation may be incompatible with existing ERCB requirements and an understanding of any risks related to a particular innovation that may be of concern to the ERCB.
- Re-examine the ERCB’s scope and scale of what would qualify for an experimental or pilot project approval to consider innovations in technology.
- Reviewing its confidentiality requirements and periods to address the timing and the potential merits and impediments of public disclosure with respect to projects involving advances in technology.
- Review existing ERCB regulatory requirements to encourage responsible innovation in technology and define the desired outcomes and monitoring criteria to mitigate any potential risks of its development and implementation. This may include the development of new monitoring and reporting and risk management programs.
- Continue with ERCB regulatory transformation, including the development and implementation of new risk matrices, requirements consolidation, and process streamlining.
For More Information
Over the next several months, the ERCB will work with parties to develop memoranda of agreement/understanding, outlining roles and responsibilities of technology decision-makers (i.e., supporters, funders, implementers, etc.).
Parties seeking more information on this bulletin should contact Doug Boyler, Chief Operations Engineer at 403-297-8283.
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Energy Resources Conservation Board