|Authors:||Duncan Kenyon, Nikki Way, Andrew Read, Barend Dronkers, Benjamin Israel, Binnu Jeyakumar, Nina Lothian|
|Publish Date:||October 2016|
|PDF Download:||[Landowners' Guide] [Landowners' Primer]|
Overview of Oil and Gas Wells
Questions About Lease Agreements
Sour Oil and Gas and Emergency Response
Environmental Considerations of Hydraulic
|Pipelines and Other Infrastructure|
|Abandonment and Reclamation|
|Compensation, Rights, and Hearings|
Before a company decides exactly where to drill a well, they may send in surveyors to find the best location for the well and access roads.
As a way to have the right information and establish a professional relationship with the surveryors it is a good approach to get the name of the responsible surveyor — they have ultimate authority for survey activities on your land. If issues arise with the surveying it is advisable to first talk with the responsible surveyor; if issues are not resolved, you may wish to file a formal complaint against the responsible surveyor with the Alberta Land Surveyors' Association.
The Surveys Act and the Surface Rights Act allow a registered land surveyor to enter and conduct surveys on private land without prior consent, but the surveyor or the company that engages the surveyor is liable for any damage that the survey team may cause. The Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association strongly encourages its members to contact landowners prior to coming onto a property and, in the event that a landowner is not home, to leave a card that a survey crew has been on the property. If entry for a surveyor is refused, the company can apply for a court order to gain access.
If you are a landowner/occupant with livestock, you may want to negotiate moving them from the area to be surveyed. It is advisable to check the area after the surveying has been completed to check for damages, and ensure that nothing has been left behind that could harm the animals.
Before a company can apply to the AER to drill a well on private land or leased public land, they must send a land agent to consult with landowners, occupants and others whose rights may be affected by their projects to request their consent as required under the AER’s Directive 056. If consent is refused after the company has attempted to negotiate, once the company has received a licence from the AER they can apply for a right-of-entry order from the Surface Rights Board, as explained in Right-of-entry orders when landowner and company cannot agree. As indicated in Right-of-entry orders when landowner and company agree, the landowner may also find it beneficial to have the company obtain a right-of-entry order. The company may also have to consult with or notify those living on neighbouring properties, depending on the distance of the property from the well and the type of well being drilled (see Public Consultation, Notification and Involvement).
The minimum distances within which people must be consulted or notified for a new project application are set out in the AER Directive 056: Energy Development Applications and Schedules, and are broken down in Required consultation and notification. The directive has specific requirements not only for wells, but also for pipelines and facilities, such as compressor stations, batteries and gas plants. These are discussed in later chapters of this guide, but the initial meeting with the land agent will be similar in each case. While the directive sets the minimum consultation and notification requirements, the land agent must also assess the area and decide if other people (e.g., those living just outside the minimum distance requirements) could be impacted, and thus should be contacted before the company files its application with the AER.
Where the AER requires consultation, the land agent must deliver both the company’s public information package and information from the AER. The company’s package should describe not only the type of project (e.g., the specific category of well, as defined in Directive 056) and its location, but also whether any gas will contain H2S. It must include information on setback distances, flaring, potential noise and traffic impacts, as well as the emergency planning zone, where relevant. The company is also required to reveal how the proposed development will fit in with its existing and future plans and discuss how setbacks might impact your future land use.
|Read the information package very carefully—both the company’s information on the project and the AER documents that explain the input you can have in the process.|
The AER documents include:
The company must also offer all current AER EnerFAQs publications that relate to the type of energy development, which might include:
Other EnerFAQs are listed in Information published by the Alberta Energy Regulator; all can be found on the AER website.
This information will provide the basis for consultation with the landowner/occupant. Although actual developments may depend on the information gained from a new well, it is still a good idea to ask the company about their future plans.
Remember, that if the well contains sour gas, the setback distances may be greater than for sweet gas; it will not be possible to use the land within the setback distance for residences and buildings until after the well is abandoned.
|Pipelines deals with issues relating to pipelines and Oil Batteries and Gas Compressor Plants covers oil batteries, compressors, and dehydrators.|
It is a good idea to talk to your neighbours to find out about other companies operating in the local area and to inquire about their plans, thus giving you a fuller scope of expected development. Before companies file their application with the Regulator, companies must send out notification of their proposed development, and then allow the public in the participant involvement program (or others who have expressed concern) at least 14 calendar days to consider and respond to the notice. If a company receives confirmation of non-objection from all those who must be notified before the 14-day period has ended, they may file their application earlier. If after 14 days the company has not resolved all of the objections, they may file the application with the AER but must indicate that there are outstanding objections. This 14-day period is part of the participant involvement program, laid out in Directive 056. If all issues and concerns are resolved by the company before they file an application, they are entitled to file a routine application, which may allow for an expedited approval process (such as the Regulator making a decision before the filing period for a statement of concern is over). If there are outstanding concerns, the company must file a non-routine application, and there will likely be the full 30-day time period to file a statement of concern.
|The requirements for companies regarding public consultation and notification are discussed in Public Consultation, Notification and Involvement.|
The following sections identify some issues you may want to discuss with the land agent, such as site selection, setbacks and various environmental considerations. These issues are summarized in a series of questions in Questions About Lease Agreements. If you are unable to resolve issues relating to site selection, the terms of the proposed lease or any other health, safety, environmental, or socio-economic issue (except compensation), the company may propose using the AER’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (see Working with the Alberta Energy Regulator) process to facilitate or mediate an agreement (see Direct Negotiations With a Company (For Issues Other Than Compensation)). Any issues relating to compensation are dealt with by the Surface Rights Board (Compensation and Surface Rights Access).
The land agent will show you on a survey plan where the company wants to drill the well. If you feel that the site they have chosen is problematic, explain why this is the case and ask them to evaluate alternative sites. The company may be able to change the surface location of a well without affecting their chances of finding oil or gas.
Ask the company to locate the well as far away as possible from your residence, buildings, and water wells, to minimize the impact on you and your family. Keep in mind the prevailing winds between your house and the well, as there may be flaring activity during the drilling period of the project.
An oil or gas well is not usually permitted within 100 metres of a dwelling, permanent farm building, school or surface water body, or within 40 metres of a surveyed road. The setback depends in part on the nature of the well, with greater distances required for sour gas wells than for oil wells and sweet gas wells. Check that the location of any water wells is shown on the survey plan and that the setback distances are satisfactory. Information on setbacks is provided in AER EnerFAQs: Explaining AER Setbacks.
The minimum setback distances for sour gas facilities are shown in Table 3. The setbacks for sweet gas wells are the same as for a Level 1 sour gas facility. As a landowner, you may want to negotiate a larger setback in some circumstances.
Table 3. Setback requirements for sour gas wells
||H2S release rate
At least 100 m to a surface improvement (e.g. dwelling, permanent farm building, school or church)
|2||0.3-2.0||At least 100 m to individual permanent dwellings and unrestricted country development|
At least 500 m to urban centres or public facilities
|3||2.0-6.0||At least 100 m to individual permanent dwellings up to 8 dwellings per quarter section|
At least 500 m to unrestricted country developments
|4||>6.0||As specified by the AER, but not less than Level 3|
Source: This table is based on information in AER Directive 056: Energy Development Applications and Schedules, Tables 5.5, 6.3 and 7.5 Refer to these tables for full details.
Note: Any well classified as a Level 1, 2, 3, or 4 sour well may also be classified as a critical sour well, which means there are stringent safety requirements, including an emergency response plan.
Further information on sour gas is provided in Sour Oil and Gas Developments and Emergency Response Plans. For setback requirements for pipelines, see Table 4, and for batteries, gas compressors and other facilities, see Table 5.