Alberta regulator to study risks of aging energy infrastructure by The Canadian Press, April 22, 2016, Calgary Herald
Alberta’s energy regulator is studying the risks posed by the province’s aging energy hardware.
“Aging infrastructure is an issue for the province,” said Jim Ellis, head of the agency which released a three-year strategic plan this week.
Ellis said the regulator has already compiled a database that locates and assesses Alberta’s thousands of abandoned wells. Now it’s time to do the same for pipelines, wellheads, compressor stations and all the other industrial facilities a century of energy development has left on the province’s landscape, he said.
“We now have a database on what wells there are, what state they’re in,” Ellis said. “What we’re going to do is move that … to pipelines, all subsurface infrastructure, and then the surface infrastructure. That’s going to take us a little bit of time.”
The database is to be compiled from agencies that preceded the current regulator, which brought together three different bodies in 2013. By the time it’s complete in March 2018, the database will detail the age, location and condition of about 415,000 kilometres of pipe and 50,000 oil and gas facilities.
The facilities — especially pipelines — will be ranked according to the human health and environmental risks they pose and dealt with accordingly, said Ellis.
He pointed to the effort his agency is already making on cleaning up 37,000 abandoned wells that dot Alberta. By January, he said, 6,800 such sites had been cleaned up.
Targets and procedures for pipeline cleanups are being developed. [Make Alberta taxpayers pay, instead of the profit-takers? Beg Trudeau to make Canadian taxpayers pay?]
“We will sit down with stakeholders and government to look at this and determine how we’re going to move through this.”
The regulator also hopes to increase public confidence in its work. It wants its overall approval among Albertans who are aware of the agency to increase to 80 per cent from about 77 per cent. [Who has the AER been surveying? Synergy Groups? SPOG? The Pembina Institute? ]
Polling released last summer suggested approval rates by industry were already at 90 per cent. That means the regulator will have to work on [More abuses, lies, bullying, propaganda and threats against Albertans by the AER?] First Nations, landowners and environmental groups, where only between half and two-thirds of respondents were confident in its ability.
“We know that’s the focus we have,” said Ellis.
“One of the things I want to do over the next couple of years is to refocus on indigenous people. As a regulator, we can do a better job.”
First Nations have criticized the agency for not allowing them to speak at public hearings on energy projects adjacent to or on their traditional land. Ellis wouldn’t comment on whether the regulator would loosen its rules on who gets standing to appear. [Of course not! Citizens, landowners, and First Nations have no rights, and no voices, not even on their own lands or in their own homes when it comes to energy invasions, notably unconventional]
He did point out a recent pipeline hearing held a special session on the Driftpile First Nation to make it easier for elders to testify.
Chris Severson-Baker of the Pembina Institute, a [lying, pollution and harm enabling, synergy machine] clean-energy think-tank, said there’s real urgency to tidy up the legacy of Alberta’s oilpatch.
Low oil prices have crimped the cash flow that used to pay for cleanup, he said. As well, carbon pricing will place further demands on industry funds.
“That may mean there’s more infrastructure there that needs to be reclaimed and cleaned up,” said Severson-Baker. “We need to make sure that there’s a lot of progress on that in the next few years in order to avoid a situation where there’s not enough cash.” [Emphasis added]
A comment to the article:
Hi Mr. Ellis,
Remember us? My children and I met you in Red Deer, at Tiffany’s Steak House. You shook our hands and promised you would assist us with the negligent emissions we are being exposed to every day, the numerous leaking wells bores and high pressure sour gas lines surrounding our home that are not being maintained or monitored, the fraudulent regulatory inspections and to ensure that there was the appropriate air and water quality monitoring and public consultations being preformed in our community.
That was in October of 2014 and we have yet to hear from you. The well sites are still leaking formation gases to atmosphere, we are still being exposed to emissions, we still can not drink our water and the pipelines surrounding or home could rupture at any minute, because integrity tests for internal and external corrosion have not been done.
However, your corporation did write a misleading “health” report full of omissions and deletions, in which the AER partly fabricated their role in regulating and responding to public health concerns with respect to our family. Dr. Dube, the water toxicologist (that the AER is trying to pass of as a health professional), did not contact us, or ask our permission to write this report and published it, using sensitive personal and medical information, without our consent or knowledge. The AER also sent the report out to local synergy groups, to Bruce Beattie and Al Kenmere of our local Mountain View municipal council and to the lawyers representing Bellatrix Exploration in our related legal action. The AER does everything in its power-which by the way is tolitarian- to discredit or disregard Albertans harmed by oil and gas operations.
Folks, the AER has no public interest or public health mandate, as per REDA. How can the AER purport to protect public safety, when they have no mandate to protect public health? If you happen to have the misfortune of having to deal with the AER regarding non-compliant or negligent operations, it will be readily apparent, whose interests the AER protects, industry-obvious by the 90% approval rating the AER gets from industry. We have been so abused and manipulated by the AER, SPOG, CMAG, AESRD and PAMZ, it is astounding.
The AER is an unconstitutional corporation and should be dissolved immediately, alas, the NDP have championed the AER-despite the promise during their campaign to review the mandate of the AER. In fact, Budget 2016 gives $245 million of taxpayers money to the legally immune, not beholden to the Public Service Act, corporately run AER.
“As well, carbon pricing will place further demands on industry funds.”
That is another typical load of bunk by the complicit Pembina, the clean energy think tank that runs off dirty industry money. Industry is exempt from the carbon levy and those producers that have to pay under the Specific Gas Emitters regulation will get to deduct carbon costs under the new royalty review framework, in the “revenue minus costs” formula.
Mike Kozak · Lacombe, Alberta
It sounds like you guys are in a tough position. Is this a long time family property that had wells drilled on it over the years? Usually the oil companies try and maintain a good relationship with the landowners while developing the properties, but overtime, and through oil companies selling and spinning off properties, these relationships seems to be less important.
Yes, we are in a tough position, thanks for your compassion. When we purchased our home, some 14 years ago, there were no well sites around, except one abandoned and capped well east of our home. In 2006-when gas was approx. $12 gJ, Angle Energy started fraccing wells by us. From 2008 to 2013, we had six wells, sour crude, sour condensate, sweet gas, sour gas, drilled and completed within 500m of our home, but none are on our property, just tucked up as close to our small 10 acre parcel as possible, but not close enough to invoke water well testing requirements, a common industry tactic, as landowners such as us, have zero rights. Angle never even attempted to have a decent relationship with us, but for leaseholders, they were sweety pies. The neighbor boy asked my daughter on the school bus one day….”Why was Angle so nice to us, but so mean to you guys?”
Each and every well site was non-compliant on some level. The worst part, for the sour crude oil well, drilled in 2010, south of our home and the closest well site, Angle intentionally falsified their public notices to us, so that we were unaware of sour gas venting and combustion station emissions (they fuelled the compressor on sour formation gas at 300ppm) being released by our home, some 15 million litres a month-this high risk non-compliance was levied by the AER in 2013, at our insistence of an audit and submission of original records. Throughout repeated complaints of sour gas odours and the company knowing we walked with our young children each day withing meters of the site, the company lied to us, stating they “had no idea” where the odours were coming from. The company also failed to include or even mention to us, their policy on relocation during sour gas operations and we endured a 19 day well test with two incinerators on a gas frac. The impacts to our health, especially that of our children, has been devastating, irrevocable and heartbreaking.
Angle did spin off and sell, as soon as the gig was up, they amalgamated with Bellatrix Exploration, a couple of weeks after we filed a legal action against the company in December of 2013.
You’re right, selling and spinning is a common tactic for companies to evade responsibility, but in our case, the action was filed and continues with Bellatrix. The core crew of Angle, went on to form High Ground Energy, landowner beware. As an interesting aside, when the kids and I crashed this AER party, where we met Mr. Ellis, we ran into Adam Payzant, he was one of the lead inspectors on our numerous files with the AER. As it turned out, he had just taken employment with Bellatrix, how cosy right?
Again, yes, you are correct. Landmen, or in this case, landwoman, Danielle Keim-Balderson, on contract with Angle, sweet talk and assure landowners the moon and back. Perfectly safe, big money forever, no impacts, on and on, but reality sets in for landowners pretty soon. The crude oil well mentioned above, completed in late 2010, was deemed inactive in May of 2014 and is now just a dangerous, explosive, stranded and wortheless liability.
If I have any advice for landowners, tell the oil and gas companies to go to that deep, dark, hot place. Your health, water, peace, quiet, safety, uncontaminated land, clean air and integrity are far more valuable than the meagre lease payments of $3500/year, that many are finding, companies can not even pay. To further, the liability, devaluation and possibly liens you may end up having on your property are devastating. Many Albertans and numerous landowners in our community are regretting their decisions to lease to these companies.
Mike Kozak · Lacombe, Alberta
Diana Daunheimer good luck in your battle. I doubt its going to be an easy one.
[Refer also to:
Referring to the AER, in the Ernst vs AER hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada, January 12, 2016
2015 07 25: Fox Creek Mayor Jim Ahn rightfully worried about frac quakes harming sour gas infrastructure in the community. How much damage have the quakes already caused sour gas wellbores and pipelines?
2015 07 19: AER orders “expectations” to Nexen over massive pipeline spill south of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation calls the break a tarsands milestone: “It is now home to the largest spill in Canadian history”
2015 07 08: What’s AER Chair, Ex-Encana-VP Protti going to fine Encana for fracing Alberta drinking water supplies? $16K fine for Apache pipeline spill not even a slap on wrist; Why is AER suddenly spurred into waving? Trying to look like a regulator?
2014 05 18: 100% industry funded Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) denies Albertans their right to speak, just as the 67% industry funded ERCB denied directly and adversely affected landowners their right to speak and violated Charter rights
2014 03 05: Alberta Energy Regulator report on Plains Midstream leak shows Alberta government monitoring failing; The company knew the pipeline had problems for 4 years before the terrible spill in the Red Deer River
2014 02 06: Complaint filed over alleged illegal searches of private information on Northern Gateway pipeline opponents by RCMP, CSIS and handing the information over to oil companies and Canada’s national energy regulator
2013 07 15: New Report: Less than 1-percent of Tar Sands Environmental Infractions Penalized by Alberta’s “Best in the World,” “World-Class,” “No Duty of Care,” spying, lying and law violating ERCB (now AER)
2012 08 23: Concerns raised over possible damage caused by fluid leak, Officials are concerned over how much damage has been done, after thousands of litres of produced water leaked from a pipeline near Red Deer