It all adds up

Everyone involved in developing Alberta’s energy resources plays a part in helping the province thrive: companies must innovate to produce oil and gas at the lowest possible cost, while government needs to take steps to offer an attractive economic environment in which companies can invest.

A regulator has a role, too: providing regulatory certainty—which means providing industry with clear, consistent rules and processes—as well as making sure its system is as efficient as possible.

“For Alberta to be competitive, the AER must eliminate unnecessary costs in our system that could impede future development,” says Jim Ellis, AER president and CEO.

“We know that reduced costs, greater certainty, and clearer processes benefit landowners, industry, and the public by attracting investment, ensuring our processes are open and transparent, and prioritizing public safety and environmental protection.”

Finding Efficiencies

The AER is ramping up efforts to reduce duplication in the regulatory system and change our processes. We’re also intervening to the level necessary by using a risk-based regulatory system that focuses on higher-risk activities.

This will be accomplished by shortening timelines on applications; by ensuring all requirements are necessary, easy to understand, and enforceable; and by continuing to transform the way the AER operates.

Improving efficiency is not a new idea. When the AER was created, a priority was to improve Alberta’s competitive advantage by making our regulatory system more efficient. Since 2014, the AER delivered more than $2 billion in regulatory savings—an amount that’s been verified by industry. This includes $143 million in industry savings for fiscal 2017/18, which exceeded the AER’s $100 million target for the year.

Everything’s on the Table

OneStop Digital Application

Now the AER has compiled a list of projects to help make our system more efficient. We know that we can’t just review our current systems—we have to transform how we regulate.

One way we’re doing this is through the Integrated Decision Approach, or IDA. Instead of many separate applications, operators will submit a single application and will receive one single decision from the regulator, be it an approval or a denial.

Supporting IDA is a technology called OneStop, which automatically processes applications for low-risk activities and forwards applications for higher-risk ones to AER technical experts for review. This not only cuts wait times on application decisions, it also allows our staff to focus their attention where it matters most, on high-priority work.

Numerous other projects are on the table. For example, this past winter the AER

  • updated requirements for well-control and well-blowout-prevention certification to give operators more flexibility when selecting training providers and
  • expanded the areas subject to subsurface orders in the Montney-Lower Doig and Duvernay geological zones. The orders contain exemptions to requirements that don’t affect public safety or the environment.

Ellis says that these coupled with a number of other projects are helping the AER create a simpler regulatory system—one that still protects the public and the environment, and improves performance at minimum cost.

“I believe you can successfully do it all.”

wells in rural locations

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