Invitation for Feedback on Proposed Amendments to Development Entity and Self-Declared Commingling Processes
June 29, 2011
The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) is seeking stakeholder input on proposed amendments to the development entity(1) (DE) and self-declared (SD) commingling processes. This bulletin describes four proposed changes to the DE and SD processes and explains how interested persons can provide their comments.
 A DE is an entity consisting of specified areas and formations in which commingling may occur. The ERCB may establish a DE where there is adequate understanding of the resources to allow commingled production to be the standard development practice. The ERCB has established two DEs to date.
There are currently three processes for managing commingled production in the wellbore:
- DE commingling,
SD commingling, and
approval of an application (resulting in a commingling order) in accordance with Directive 065: Resources Applications for Oil and Gas Reservoirs (Directive 065).
Details of the three commingling processes are provided in Directive 065. A well licensee consults the decision trees in Attachments 1, 2, and 3 to determine which of the processes can be used for commingling. If the proposed commingling does not meet the requirements for commingling through the DE or SD processes, the licensee must get approval for the commingling through the application process.
The ERCB is proposing the following four changes to the DE and SD commingling processes:
1) The ERCB proposes eliminating the notification requirements that currently apply to the DE and SD commingling processes. Current notification requirements for the DE and SD processes are described in the Attachment 4. When implemented in 2006, the notification requirements were intended to be tools for informing potentially interested parties that DE or SD commingling was or would be occurring. If an interested party had any concerns about the commingling, it had the option of filing an objection, which the ERCB would consider. Over the past several years, the ERCB has received very few objections to commingling using the DE and SD processes and has therefore concluded that formal notification of those activities is not necessary.
The ERCB compiled a list of DE and SD wells and posted the list to the ERCB Web site. The ERCB proposes that interested parties consult the list of DE and SD wells as an alternative to the current notification process. The list can be found on the Commingling page of the ERCB Web site at www.ercb.ca. The list is updated daily and will be a reliable way of finding information about DE and SD commingling. Filing an objection to DE/SD commingling will continue to be an option.
Existing notification requirements for commingling order applications under Directive 065 will remain unchanged.
2) Amendment of the current DE and SD decision trees is proposed. The ERCB proposes removing the following question from the DE and SD decision trees:
Are there any water wells within a 600 m radius with a total depth less than 25 m from the top of the perforations of the well proposed for commingling?
In 2006 when new processes for commingling were being considered, concerns were expressed about the potential effects on water wells of the commingling of gas from shallow coalbed methane zones. This criterion was put into place in 2006 as part of the implementation of the new DE and SD commingling processes to address those concerns. However, the criterion is no longer necessary because other effective regulatory means are in place to address future operations, as follows:
- Directive 027: Shallow Fracturing Operations – Restricted Operations. This directive regulates the fracture-stimulation of shallow wells. The intent of this directive is to ensure that groundwater is not jeopardized by fracturing operations.
- Directive 035: Baseline Water Well Testing Requirement for Coalbed Methane Wells Completed Above the Base of Groundwater Protection.
- Directive 044: Requirements for the Surveillance, Sampling and Analysis of Water Production in Oil and Gas Wells Completed Above the Base of Groundwater Protection (BGWP). This directive requires that industry self-audit water production at all producing wells with completions above BGWP and address non-saline water production according to directive guidelines.
3) Amendment of the explanatory notes respecting the DE and SD decision tree criteria is proposed. Ongoing feedback to the ERCB indicates that some of the decision tree criteria, and the notes in Directive 065 that explain the DE and SD criteria, may not be as clear as desired. The ERCB proposes clarifying the explanatory notes based on the feedback received. The edits would be to clarify the matters involved and would not represent any change in practice, policy, or requirements, except for the changes noted above.
4) Amendment of the requirements for commingling applications to be consistent with the DE and SD criteria is proposed. The edits would ensure that the commingling application process is harmonized with the DE and SD commingling processes.
Request for Comments
The ERCB invites your feedback on the proposed changes to the DE and SD commingling processes and to their notification requirements by August 19, 2011. Any feedback may be forwarded to the ERCB by email to Commingling@ercb.ca. Questions may be addressed to K. Fisher at 403-297-8490.
All feedback received will be reviewed and considered before changes are finalized. All of the comments, feedback, and information collected, used, and disclosed through this consultation will form part of the public record and are subject to the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The ERCB may use the contact information you provide for follow-up communication related to your feedback.
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