Written by Brad Gilmour, Stephanie Ridge and Gregory Whiteside
On April 7, 2020, Alberta Energy announced the temporary suspension of certain reporting requirements pursuant to Ministerial Order 219/2020 signed April 6, 2020. This follows similar reporting relief announced by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Alberta Environment and Parks on April 3, 2020, addressed in Environmental/Regulatory Reporting Relief: Alberta Temporarily Suspends Reporting Requirements for Certain Authorizations.
The Ministerial Order suspends certain reporting requirements under the Coal Conservation Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, and the Oil Sands Conservation Act. The Ministerial Order is made by the Minister of Energy, Sonya Savage, under the powers provided by section 52.1(3) of the Public Health Act that permits a Minister to suspend or modify the application or operation of an enactment that the Minister is satisfied is not in the public interest during a public health emergency. In this case, the Ministerial Order concludes that compliance with the reporting requirements set out in the Ministerial Order cause hardship and is not in the public interest.
The suspended requirements include:
- All of the following requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in the Coal Conservation Rules and approvals:
- annual reporting required under section 65 (2) (a) and (b) of the Coal Conservation Rules;
- Exploration Reporting requirements under section 40 of the Coal Conservation Rules; and
- all plans specified within approval conditions under the Coal Conservation Act except conditions related to geotechnical reporting requirements.
- All of the following requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules, Directives, Approvals, and licences:
- all deliverability, annual and initial reservoir pressure surveys for resource conservation including enhanced oil recovery, disposal, oil and gas production depletion strategy including pool delineation per Directive 040: Pressure and Deliverability Testing Oil and Gas Wells and section 11.02 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules;
- all annual progress reports and performance presentations for Directive 065 scheme approvals per section 18.104.22.168 of Directive 065: Resources Applications for Oil and Gas Reservoirs and section 39 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act;
- the submission of well logs and summary reports to the AER under section 7.2 of Directive 080: Well Logging and sections 11.005 and 11.140 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules; and
- specific initial suspension requirements for certain inactive wells (as outlined in the Ministerial Order) per Directive 013: Suspension Requirements for Wells and section 3.020 of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules.
- All of the following requirements to report information pursuant to the Oil Sands Conservation Act and approvals:
- Annual Mine Plans under section 30 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules;
- Report of Mining operations under section 31 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules;
- Report of operations under section 58 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules;
- Annual Geotechnical Report under section 32 of the Oil Sands Conservation Rules; and all plans specified within approval conditions under the Oil Sands Conservation Act except conditions related to geotechnical reporting requirements.
The relaxations are in effect until the earliest of August 14, 2020; 60 days after Order in Council 080/2020 (i.e., the Order declaring the public health emergency in Alberta) is terminated, if terminated before June 15, 2020; or when the Ministerial Order is terminated by the Minister or the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
As in the earlier Ministerial Orders, the suspension provides relief for reporting but not from the underlying obligation to collect and record information as otherwise required. All other monitoring and reporting required under relevant legislation, policy directives, and authorizations must continue.
Alberta Energy also emphasizes in Information Letter 2020-13 that these suspensions do not affect any requirements related to health or environmental impacts, or impacts to reporting required for royalty calculation and collection.
We will continue to monitor ongoing developments as governments, regulators, and industry explore practical ways to achieve regulatory compliance in this public health emergency.
Should have you have questions as to how these changes affect your operations and business, please contact the Bennett Jones Regulatory group. In addition, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for other COVID-19-related materials.