Sour gas development in the Waterton Field

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is the regulator for non-renewable energy development in Alberta, responsible for approving project applications, industry compliance with requirements, and ensuring safe and responsible project closures. In 2020, the Government of Alberta announced a new Liability Management Framework for the oil and gas sector to address a growing problem of inactive and orphaned facilities and unfunded closure liabilities. New applications for oil and gas development are subject to the new Framework which includes an enhanced capacity review for operators and mandatory inactive inventory reduction. 

The Clinic was retained by a resident who lives in the Waterton field near the Hamlet of Beaver Mines and is opposed to a new sour gas pipeline which was approved by the AER in September 2021. Clinic staff and students assisted the client with drafting and filing of an application for an internal AER appeal of the license decision, including arguments that our client met the ‘directly affected’ test for standing under the Responsible Energy Development Act (Alberta). In January 2022, the AER granted our client standing to appeal the license decision. The AER regulatory appeal is scheduled to occur in the Fall of 2024.

In May 2023, the AER panel refused an interim motion by our client, requesting disclosure of the licensee capacity assessment under AER Directives 067 and 088. In October 2023, our client received permission to appeal this refusal decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal. JD students in the Clinic worked on the appeal during the Winter 2024 term, and the Clinic successfully argued the appeal on behalf of the client at the Court of Appeal in April 2024. The Court ruled that the AER’s reasons for refusing disclosure were inconsistent with the AER’s governing legislation, and accordingly the AER issued a revised decision that will potentially produce some disclosure of the licensee capacity assessment for our client.

This matter is ongoing.