Oil and Gas – Facilities
On July 18, 2019, the AER approved a reclamation certificate application from Whitecap Resources Inc. (“Whitecap”). Reclamation Certificate 382273 (the “Reclamation Certificate”) was consequently issued. The affected landowners, Mr. Herman and Mrs. Shirley Dorin (the “Dorins”) filed a request for regulatory appeal. The AER granted the regulatory appeal request in part and specified the request was granted on the question of whether the Reclamation Certificate was properly issued.
The AER confirmed the previous decision to issue the Reclamation Certificate.
Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice, Alta Reg 99/2013.
Conservation and Reclamation Regulation, Alta Reg 115/1993.
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, RSA 2000, c E-12.
Responsible Energy Development Act, SA 2012, c R-17.3.
The Dorins raised issues regarding fencing, road status and soil conditions. The Dorins also alleged that the process resulting in the issuing of the Reclamation Process was procedurally unfair.
The AER determined that there was sufficient evidence on the record to conclude that the fencing that remains in place is useful to the landowners. The AER found that there was not enough evidence to allow the conclusion that the remaining fencing impedes the use of the lands or that it poses a hazard.
The AER further found that while it would have been preferable if Whitecap had sought confirmation from the Dorins regarding the reclamation of the east-west road, in the absence of such confirmation, the various indications of the landowners’ intentions about the east-west access demonstrate an expectation on the part of the Dorins that Whitecap would not reclaim the east-west access road and that it would remain in place.
The AER determined that the Dorins have not provided enough evidence to support their contention that salt contamination resulted from sources other than manure. The evidence showed a clear link between manure salts off the well site and salts in samples on the well site. The AER found that manure is the most likely cause of the elevated salinity. The AER determined that it was unreasonable to expect mitigation of manure effects to be within Whitecap’s control and that well site productivity and ecological function are equivalent to off site conditions, and that remediation is not required.
The AER found that the Dorins’ participation in the application review process was extensive and that they had been given every needed opportunity to submit information, arguments, and communicate with the AER.
The AER however found that the process for issuing the Reclamation Certificate after the application was reviewed was so flawed, that it was unfair. The AER remedied any unfairness through this regulatory appeal process. The regulatory appeal process provided ample opportunity for the Dorins to have their submissions fully considered by the panel.