Alberta’s energy sector is vast and complex. It includes crude oil, natural gas, oil sands, and coal resources, and an extensive pipeline network that moves product to market. Ensuring that it operates in a safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible manner is no simple task. Enter the AER, Alberta’s sole regulator that energy companies must deal with as they carry out their activities.

Few organizations on the planet regulate as large and varied a mix of energy resources as we do. We oversee some very large established reserves:

  • 1.6 billion barrels of conventional oil
  • 165 billion barrels of bitumen
  • 28.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas
  • 36.6 billion tons of coal

That’s a lot of energy, and it requires a lot of infrastructure to produce, mine, process, and move it to market. We’re responsible for regulating this infrastructure, including pipelines, wells, processing facilities, in situ projects, bitumen upgraders, coal mines, and coal-processing plants.

The Government of Alberta gives the AER authority to ensure that companies develop the province’s massive energy resources in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion, without waste:

  • We review applications and make decisions on tens of thousands of proposed energy developments each year.
  • We oversee all aspects of energy resource activities in accordance with government policies.
  • We regularly inspect energy activities to ensure that all applicable requirements are met.
  • We penalize companies that fail to comply with AER requirements.
  • We hold hearings on proposed energy developments.

To make it happen, the AER employs 1200 staff, including inspectors, technical staff, engineers, geologists, scientists, investigators, stakeholder engagement specialists, mediators, lawyers, regulatory experts, and other employees in 15 offices and field centres around Alberta.

The AER also offers two unique and world-class services: the Core Research Centre, which collects, preserves, and displays core samples and drill cuttings dating back decades; and the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS), which studies the world that lies beneath Alberta.

Alberta’s Sole Energy Regulator

The Government of Alberta created the AER in 2013 when it proclaimed the Responsible Energy Development Act. We took on regulatory functions that are related to energy development and that were held by Alberta Environment and Parks (previously Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development), and we combined them with the regulatory functions of the AER’s predecessor, the Energy Resources Conservation Board.

The AER’s role is to develop and enforce rules and regulations around energy development, taking direction from government policy. The AER is a key partner in the government’s Integrated Resource Management System, a collaborative and coordinated approach to managing Alberta’s environment and natural resources. Other partners are the government departments of Environment and Parks, Indigenous Relations, Energy, Agriculture and Forestry, and Health.

AER office map

what we regulate

Dec. 31, 2017

What we regulate - primary recovery in situ projects  and experimental in situ projects
What we regulate - over 700 gas processing plants
What we regulate - close to 21000 oil facilities

What We Don’t Regulate

The AER’s authority is limited to activities related to oil, bitumen,
natural gas, and coal development. We have no authority over any of
the following:

  • Gasoline or other refined petroleum products
  • Oil and gas pipelines that cross provincial or international borders (these are regulated by the National Energy Board)
  • Any aspect of electricity generation or distribution, including renewable energies
  • The regulated rate for natural gas , which is the responsibility of the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC)
  • Gas utility pipelines (again, this falls to the AUC, although the AER does inspect these pipelines and provide incident response on the AUC’s behalf)

what we don't regulate

What we don't regulate - electricity, natural gas, pipelines that cross borders, gasoline, renweables