Alberta Energy Regulator Is Alberta's New Single Energy Regulator

March 17, 2014

On November 30, 2013, Alberta took another step towards establishing a single energy regulator approach for energy projects within our province.  The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will take over the administration of the Public Lands Act and the Mines and Minerals Act, in an effort to streamline energy procedures, including the approval of various permits.  The AER’s new responsibilities include the following:

  • Issuing geophysical approvals for exploration under Part 8 of the Mines and Minerals Act;
  • Issuing public lands dispositions under the Public Lands Act in relation to energy resource activities for oil, natural gas, oil sands and coal; and
  • Enabling landowners to register private surface agreements that the regulator is then able to enforce.

The AER was officially launched in June 2013 with the acquisition of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and Environment and Sustainable Resources Development (ESRD). This takeover requires a timely implementation of three phases.


The overall purpose of the AER is to ensure the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over the entirety of a project life-cycle.  This includes the allocation and conservation of water resources, management of public lands and protection of our environment.

The AER succeeds the ERCB and is authorized to make decisions on applications for energy development, monitoring for compliance assurance, decommissioning of developments and essentially all energy activity aspects.  They will take on regulatory functions from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development that relates to public lands, water and the environment.  Essentially, the AER will oversee the entirety of the energy resource development in Alberta, which includes, but is not limited to, everything from application and construction to abandonment and reclamation.

As reported in a news release published on the AER website, AER Chair Gerry Protti has stated that the AER will operate as a “corporate-style board,” adding, “This new structure will allow the regulator’s Board of Directors to set the direction for the organization’s business, approve regulatory change, and set performance expectations for the regulator.”

As outlined on their website, the AER regulates:

  • Over 185,000 wells and 405,000 km of pipelines
  • 775 gas processing plants
  • Nine oil sands mines
  • More than 50 thermal in situ and 200 primary/enhanced schemes
  • Five bitumen upgraders
  • Ten coal mines
  • Four processing plants

For more information on the AER, visit

–Amanda Holmberg, Communica