The ERCB has extensive regulations and requirements that upstream petroleum licensees must follow to protect the public and the environment during all stages of energy development. If an emergency occurs, a licensee must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to protect the health, safety, and welfare of people and to limit damage to property and the environment. ERCB staff respond to emergencies on a 24-hour basis. In the event of an oilfield emergency, the ERCB assumes a leadership role in coordinating emergency response among the company, the municipality in which the emergency occurs, and the provincial emergency management authority.
An oil and gas licensee must have a general or corporate-level emergency response plan (ERP). Corporate-level ERPs do not require ERCB approval but must be submitted for review upon request.
The ERCB sets out additional requirements for sour gas wells, sour gas production facilities and associated gathering systems, high vapour pressure pipelines (which transmit such products as propane, butane, and ethane in liquid form), spills, and natural gas storage facilities. These types of development require a site-specific ERP and must be approved by the ERCB before operations commence. The ERCB also requires that facility ERPs are updated annually and the public consulted biennially to ensure that ERPs remain current. By setting standards for emergency response planning, training, and exercises, the ERCB works with industry to ensure that Alberta's resources are developed safely and in the public's interest.
Purpose of an Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
An ERP details the specifics of a quick and effective response to emergencies in order to protect the public.
An ERP is a detailed set of pre-planned actions that allows all parties involved to respond effectively to an emergency; it is a key component of ERCB emergency preparedness and response requirements. An ERP addresses worst-case emergency scenarios and potential hazards to the public, ensuring that appropriate measures are always in place to protect public safety. If an oil and gas emergency occurs, the licensee's ERP is activated immediately.
A comprehensive ERP
- is well organized to ensure quick access to critical information;
- coordinates activities among the ERCB, industry, emergency services, local authorities, governments, and others;
- ensures communication with all parties involved in or potentially affected by the emergency;
- clearly establishes roles and responsibilities;
- assists personnel in determining and performing corrective action; and
- increases public confidence in the ability of industry to handle emergencies.
Details of the ERCB's requirements on emergency preparedness and response are found in Directive 071: Emergency Preparedness and Response Requirements for the Petroleum Industry .