Written by Brad Gilmour, Stephanie Ridge, Greg Whiteside and Phillip Hanna
The Government of Alberta announced on June 22, 2020, that the environmental and regulatory reporting requirements that were suspended in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency will resume July 15, 2020. Authorization holders and energy companies will be required to resume reporting technical information regularly and in accordance with their authorizations to satisfy any pre-suspension requirements to Alberta Environment and Parks and/or the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). In addition, records and information collected during the reporting suspension period will now have to be submitted.
As noted in our earlier blogs on the subject, Ministerial Orders 17/2020 and 219/2020 provided temporary relief to authorization holders from reporting certain routine technical information required by individual authorizations, such as licenses, permits and dispositions issued under affected legislation. The Ministerial Orders were set to lapse on August 14, 2020, unless continued by the Lieutenant Governor in Council or terminated by the responsible Minister. Instead, the Ministerial Orders were repealed ahead of the lapse date. These Ministerial Orders were enacted as a result of the state of public emergency in Alberta due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which ended June 15, 2020. Commenting on the repeal of these Ministerial Orders, Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon stated: "Now that the public health emergency is no longer in effect and Alberta is reopening as part of our phase two relaunch, industry can resume business while keeping communities and employees safe.”
We note that AER Decisions 20200520A and 20200520B to suspend additional monitoring requirements for conventional oil and gas and in situ operations in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency is separate from the suspended reporting requirements addressed by these Ministerial Orders.
Repeal of Ministerial Orders
Ministerial Order 32/2020, issued by Jason Nixon, repeals Ministerial Order 17/2020 effective July 15, 2020. As a result, the suspended or modified reporting requirements under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act, and the Public Land Act will resume effective July 15, 2020. More information on the suspended reporting requirements under these pieces of legislation are outlined in Environmental/Regulatory Reporting Relief: Alberta Temporarily Suspends Reporting Requirements for Certain Authorizations.
Concurrently, the Minister of Energy, Sonya Savage, issued Ministerial Order 328/2020, which repeals Ministerial Order 219/2020 and results in the resumption of reporting requirements under the Coal Conservation Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, and the Oil Sands Conservation Act effective July 15, 2020. More information on the suspended reporting requirements under these pieces of legislation are outlined in Alberta Energy Announces Additional Suspensions to Regulatory Reporting Requirements.
Should you have questions as to how these changes affect your operations and business, please contact the Bennett Jones Environmental group. In addition, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for other COVID-19-related materials.