1. ABOUT BILL WHITELAW
Bill Whitelaw is president and CEO of JWN, as well as executive vice-president, Business Information Group, at Glacier Inc. and managing director of Evaluate Energy, an affiliated energy analytics and research company based in London, UK.
Bill is a director on many industry sector boards including the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources [CSUR; more on this vile lobby group below] and the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame. He speaks frequently on the subjects of social licence, innovation and technology, and energy supply networks.
Mr. Whitelaw might do well to read these:
“A Murderer’s Row: Maturities are coming year after year.” Bankruptcies rising in U.S. oil patch as Wall Street’s disaffection with frac’ers reverberates through industry. 26 producers file for bankruptcy so far in 2019; 28 filed in all of 2018. Bankruptcies expected to rise, “Debt levels are just too high and they’re going to have to take their medicine.”
World’s Biggest Fund Manager, BlackRock, lost $90 Billion investing in fossil fuel companies over last decade
U.S. Shale Is Doomed No Matter What They Do: “More bankruptcies are all but certain as oil and gas borrowers must repay or refinance **several hundred billion dollars** of debt over the next six months”
Watch your money Argentina! Frackers have spilled billions of dollars in red ink. Fracked oil & natural gas have been financial disasters. “Cash flows from fracking-focused oil and gas companies across the US have been negative for decades — even when oil and gas prices were higher than they are now.”
2. A few comments by members of Alberta Surface Rights FB Group:
Link referenced above: https://www.ernstversusencana.ca/aers-300-billion-ponzi-scheme-closer-to-fruition-alberta-court-of-appeal-favours-creditors-over-environment-upholds-redwater-decision-did-aer-set-this-up-to-create-horrific-legal-precedent/
Albertans should take back to the streets to stand up for the AER, It might be tempting to vilify the Alberta Energy Regulator as having a part in the mosaic of woes in front of oil and gas. In fact, quite the opposite is true by Bill Whitelaw, Sept. 15, 2019, JWN Trusted Energy and Intelligence
It was an interesting spring and summer in downtown Calgary and around Alberta, what with the rallies and all.
Why, there were days when thousands of energy sector workers poured into the streets to demonstrate support for Canada’s oil and gas industry.
It was something to behold. There were placards and posters and sloganed T-shirts. There were chants and speeches. There was undeniable passion.
In brief, they were rallying to support the integrity of Canadian oil and gas — and they were telling politicians (and by extension, other Canadians) in no uncertain terms to get with the support program.
The key word here: integrity. That’s the point rally delegates wanted to make to politicians: quit screwing up the sector and support its integrity. Do that and you support Canadian prosperity. In other words, integrity and prosperity go hand in hand.
There’s another lexical soulmate for integrity-backed prosperity: independence.
So, here’s a critical question: will we pour into the streets to rally in similar fashion to protect the Alberta Energy Regulator’s integrity — and its independence — as it enters into a process potentially primed for political tinkering?
The United Conservative Party has launched its AER review process. And it smells to high heaven of craven politicking and agenda setting — including, one might suspect, an effort to slide the AER closer to Alberta Energy, the provincial ministry for most things on the province’s energyscape.
To the degree that the AER’s independence from government isn’t necessarily top of mind for ordinary Albertans, the thought that the regulator’s ability to protect the interests all Albertans — not just those noisy UCP supporters — is potentially in peril could rock the foundation of a system that has worked marvellously well for decades.
When it comes to regulatory integrity, you can’t fit a micron measure between independence and integrity.
Integrity is important on so many levels.
Energy minister Sonya Savage has made much of two things: the AER’s alleged growth in staff and the lengthy time lapses for processing applications.
Those dynamics, she contends, discourage investment and interest in Alberta’s energy industry.
What would investors think of this, though? Would investors be eager to park capital in a jurisdiction in which the failure of an independent regulator produced approvals to applications that resulted in lengthy hearings; the lack of trust in which resulted in court action? We’re then into potentially project-killing delay territory.
But we must wait for the facts of the review to emerge before jumping to that conclusion. Since 2013 when the current AER was formed, has staffing actually grown? Or remained flat?
Given the AER’s own red-tape cutting initiatives of late, are application times actually increasing? Or decreasing? Has the innovative OneStop platform helped with efficiency, notwithstanding that public consultations as existing policy-driven imperatives within the application framework can cause seemingly minor applications to drag on disproportionate to the application’s complexity.
There’s a little piece of legislation called the Responsible Energy Development Act which sets out much of the legislative framework it is up to the AER to work within, and understandably, it has a strong focus on stakeholder engagement.
Presumably, these are details that will be up to deputy ministers Grant Sprague and Bev Yee, who are leading the review with the new board, to ferret out as they delve into details that may not be apparent to politicians. That raises the key questions about the review’s focus and processes it will use to get at what could be useful improvements; indeed, an impartial review might also point to how reasonably significant under-investment has hampered the AER’s ability to discharge its responsibilities.
To kick it off, in that spirit of fairness and even handedness — and to avoid the perception that political machinations may be at work — it would be a good idea for Savage, Sprague and Yee, along with the new board, to get a first-hand demo (if they haven’t already) of the OneStop toolkit as a way of quickly diving into the extensive work AER staff have already conducted in the red-tape realm. That might also lead to a discussion of how government inattention to the AER’s efforts in this space might lead to a new appreciation of the significant advances that are already known in the public domain but perhaps not sufficiently discussed in government.
If indeed there is a political agenda at work, and that seems logical given the UCP penchant for finding ways and means of appeasing — indeed, some times compounding — industry angst, the review is impeccably timed to be deliberately kept off the public radar given the flurry of panels and consultations that the UCP machine has rolled out. That there’s a federal election concurrently running in which AlbertaAngstTM will be foregrounded also usefully provides a veil behind much can be secreted.
All of this, of course, may simply be air cover for what many in various branches of the bureaucracy fear in the next few weeks: budgetary blades that will cut swiftly and deeply.
That’s why Albertans must step up, including those whose daily bread is earned in the sector. It might be tempting to vilify the AER as having a part in the complex mosaic of woes that have befallen the industry. In fact, quite the opposite is true. And once we get our hydrocarbons to tidewater, the world will want to know the products come from jurisdictions that are well regulated and the environment appropriately protected — and done so by a framework safely distanced from political interference.
Just ask the good folks at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; they have in hand survey data which points to the fact people around the world cite Canada as the preferred choice for hydrocarbon production.
The summer’s rally attendees also had (and still have) a common cry: “The world needs more Canada.” That’s true. Canada’s energy sector has much to offer, not least of which is a strong regulatory ethos. But it’s also true the world expects more of Canada.
Independent regulation is the least we can offer. [Independent? Impossible! AER is 100% industry funded & controlled! Just ask Encana!]
That’s why the good folks who put together and attended the previous rallies ought to get Albertans back into the streets to ensure the UCP doesn’t damage an enterprise critical to provincial prosperity.
3. A little AER (ERCB/EUB) history intermingled with more industry propaganda by David Yager:
What A Revamped Alberta Energy Regulator SHOULD Look Like (After a Little History). Where is Yager’s History on AER’s sordid lying and repulsive spying law violations?
2013: Alberta Energy Regulator (previously ERCB, previously EUB and ERCB before it was the EUB) 100% financed by oil and gas industry, will be corporate-style, allocate water, including for fracking. Mandate to operate in the public interest removed!
Frac Water Orgy Announced by AER’s Mark Taylor (ex-manager Encana who lied to Rosebud, said Encana would never frac their drinking water). No Wonder AEP is Taking Water Licences Away from Farmers/Ranchers: AER grants 10 year blanket approval water licences; Companies need not know where they will frac, or how much they will frac or where they’ll get their water from. Companies “expected” to look at sources other than fresh drinking water, eg hydrocarbon contaminated groundwater, but not if contaminated with methane!
What A Revamped Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) SHOULD Look Like (After a Little History) by David Yager, August 20, 2019, EnergyNow
Cartoon from Justice D W Perras 2007 Report on EUB’s “repulsive” spying scandal
EUB (Energy Utilities Board) was ERCB (Energy Resources Conservation Board). After the spying scandal and breaking the law, Alberta govt switched EUB back to ERCB; after Ernst’s lawsuit went public, govt deregulated the “regulator” removing its public interest mandate and renamed it AER.
Slides above from Ernst presentations
Alberta’s UCP government has pledged to review and repair the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). During the spring election the UCP campaigned on replacing the AER’s board of directors. By July this had expanded into a complete review.
A comprehensive evaluation of what the AER is and should be doing is long overdue.
In late 2018 the AER’s first and only CEO, Jim Ellis, abruptly resigned. This preceded a $2.7 million lawsuit regarding a supposedly commercial consulting offshoot created to sell regulatory advisory services to other governments. Called ICORE (International Centre Of Regulatory Excellence), this was a peculiar activity for a provincial regulator funded by Alberta industry; helping other jurisdictions compete with Alberta oil and gas producers. The financial claims have apparently been settled but the complete story remains a mystery. Multiple reviews by government agencies are underway.
For the past five years the AER has been demanding more cash for mature well and asset decommissioning from mineral licensees that for the most part don’t have any. That the AER should ensure the industry cleans up after itself is within its mandate. How it accomplishes this must be reexamined.
Thanks to the AER’s successful petition to the Supreme Court to establish that environmental cleanup obligations rank ahead of secured lenders in the case of insolvency, now troubled companies can’t borrow to stay onside with AER decommissioning deposits. All borrowers now face higher costs or lower limits. Should an Alberta regulator be intervening in federal banking legislation? Is this what the AER should be doing when many companies are experiencing financial difficulties?
In 2018 it took 1,200 people and $270 million (fiscal year ended March 31, 2018) for the AER to handle about 40,000 applications. The cost for 2014 was over $40 million lower for what the AER reports is the same number of files handled. Based on the state of the industry, the type of activity must be different. Costs are going up while the industry is going nowhere. Why?
What should the AER’s purpose be in today’s turbulent world of intense global fossil fuel competition and the turbocharged political environment regarding climate change, industrial development and even the very existence of the industry? What does success look like? [Covering-up corporate crimes and violating the Charter rights of harmed Albertans, with the courts helping AER get away with it]
History and the AER’s Changing Mission
In 1938 the province created the Alberta Petroleum Natural Gas Conservation Board in part to deal with the proper exploitation of the big discovery of the day, Turner Valley. The other purpose was to create a regulatory framework for the continued and hopefully expanding development of oil and natural gas.
The name was later changed to Alberta Oil & Gas Conservation Board and renamed again as the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB). In 1995 the ERCB was merged with the Public Utilities Board to create the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB). This changed the mandate significantly to include utilities as such electricity transmission.
Why leave out the regulator’s law-violating, “repulsive” spying & lying chapter? It’s the most important of the regulator’s/industry’s story!
Privacy commissioner rules against AER
AER fails integrity test by spying on residents
2007 06 21: EUB (now AER) credibility on the line, Alberta Premier defends EUB spying on landowners
2007 06 22: Landowners intend to bring legal action against the EUB (now AER) for spying on them and intruding on solicitor client privilege
2007 06 24: Private Investigator posing as landowner was the worst, Spying on citizens casts a smothering pall of bias on any EUB (now AER) decision
2007 06 26: EUB (now AER) spies
2007 07 03: EUB (now AER) must be investigated now
2007 08 18: EUB (now AER) coverup shocking, Prove to be inept at spying and lying
‘2007 08 21: ‘Heads must roll’
2007 09 16: EUB (now AER) purge, Security unit scrapped, members fired for EUB spying scandal
2007 09 22: Disgracefully undemocratic
2007 09 24: Taxpayers Pick up Portion of $22,000 EUB (now AER) Spy Bill without Explanation
End Alberta energy regulator’s sordid law-violating spying & lying chapter.
In 2008 the oil, gas and coal regulatory function was separated from utilities, re-creating the ERCB. In 2012 Edmonton passed the Responsible Energy Act to create today’s AER by combining the operations and responsibilities of the ERCB and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. This merged “one window” entity would also administer the Public Lands Act, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Water Act. Created in 2013, operations as the AER began in early 2014. The purpose was a single organization responsible for all projects from application to reclamation. [MAIN PURPOSE WAS TO GIVE THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY CONTROL OF ALBERTA’S FRESH WATER; SNEAKILY AND NASTILY REMOVE PUBLIC INTEREST FROM THE REGULATOR’S MANDATE; AND DEREGULATE TO ENABLE THE FRAC FRENZY FREE-FOR-ALL]
The AER’s mandate reads, “The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of oil, oil sands, natural gas, and coal resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.”
AER’s outside counsel, Glenn Solomon gave the same spin to the Supreme Court of Canada in Ernst vs AER.
Promises/propaganda on AER’s website are unenforceable. The AER has no Duty of Care to the environment, any Albertan harmed by oil and gas, or any community’s drinking water being frac’d to bits like Fox Creek’s or Rosebud’s. AER is also completely legally immune, has zero accountability to anyone but the industry that 100% finances and controls it.
“Economic” is nowhere to be seen in any of the 44 pages of REDA, the Act that governs AER:
And there is no mandate for AER to operate in the public interest or for economic benefit to Albertans! Snap of the AER’s mandate below copied directly from REDA:
There have been huge changes in Alberta, its demographics and the political landscape since the AER’s origins 81 years ago.
The original purpose was only to facilitate the orderly and responsible development of hydrocarbon resources. The primary drivers were fuel, lubricants, employment and economic growth. Today it deals with water, air, land, wildlife, community impact, development and lifestyle issues. [Deals with, or enables and covers impacts of those up?]
For most of the 20th century fossil fuels were considered an asset, not a liability or even a problem. Nowadays, the climate change issue has politicized hydrocarbons in ways not previously imagined. …
Challenging federal banking legislation and selling regulatory services to foreign countries appears nowhere in the AER’s mandate.
Politicians and Regulators – A Love/Hate Relationship
… As increasing concerns for environmental protection and Alberta’s growing population created more direct land use conflicts, the role of the ERCB/AER began to change. It was pressured to deal with issues that were increasingly more political than legal or regulatory. Regulation now included accommodation. [Or, abusing, smearing, spying on, lying about, threatening, intimidating and violating rights of concerned Albertans until silenced?]
An example was the Critical Sour Well regulations that followed 1982’s massive Lodgepole blowout which exposed Edmonton to toxic quantities of poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas. Public outrage resulted in an extensive public inquiry. When concluded, new regulations required those planning wells containing H2S to consult all neighbours downwind or within a certain radius. Often this went to public hearings. [Rarely then, now, even more rarely, if at all.]
This was perfect for politicians. Nobody elected to or running for public office had to publicly defend drilling poison gas wells near homes, towns or schools as good for the neighbours and the economy. They deferred instead to the ERCB, a respected [During the EUB’s vile law-violating spying and lying chapter in history, violating Ernst’s charter rights trying to scare her quiet about the regulator covering-up Encana’s crimes, and enabling many other corporate crimes, the regulator lost all credibility and respect. It has none; it’s become a mafia-like goon agency that pimps sexualized synergy propaganda projects on harmed communities and families to let industry rape 24/7] arms-length regulator. [!!!!! “arm’s length?” farce length perhaps!] After due process the ERCB’s final decision was generally accepted and rarely challenged. [Because the courts rarely respect the Rule of Law and rights of Albertans enough to bother listening to the endless harms done. How many harmed citizens can afford to throw away 1 Million dollars and 20 years of their lives to chase through endless abusive court-ordered delay & exhaust hoops to win maybe $20,000.00 and be ordered by the court to pay the defendants’ legal fees if winning less than offered to settle & gag out of court?]
By the 1990s, regulators were increasingly asked to consider environmental or quality-of-life issues that had previously not been within their purview. This included more rigorous wildlife, land, water and air protection. Politicians enjoyed taking credit publicly on the protection side, but when it came to supporting development others opposed, they often preferred deferring to regulators. Project proponents found that the application and approval process was becoming increasingly complex, the review and hearings longer, and all costs rising.
[Pfffft on that shit. If companies respected the land, water and air, and the health of Albertans who live near industry’s poisonous operations, and stopped lying and stopped their sinister synergy attacks on honest hard-working citizens, most of those complexities would never have arisen. Industry/AER is its own roadkill!]
The National Energy Board (NEB) provides a good example. Well understood is how much the role of the national pipeline regulator has changed in recent years. By having the NEB deal with hot-button issues such as climate change, oil spills, carbon emissions and indigenous land claim issues, politicians allowed and/or forced NEB hearings to stray significantly from the regulator’s original mandate which was technical and economic.
Further, environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) realized public hearings were an ideal place to demand intervenor status and force the NEB to consider issues not even imagined when it was created in 1959, like the impact of the contents of a Canadian pipeline on global carbon dioxide emissions.
As pipeline hearings became increasingly acrimonious, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government sensed a political opportunity and promised to repair the NEB process. But with Bill C-69, Ottawa chose to expand the regulatory process, increase the number of eligible participants, and ensure it would always be political by placing the final decision in the hands of the federal cabinet.
Like the NEB, the AER has become increasingly focused on non-technical issues. As expectations from the public, ENGOs and politicians evolved and grew, the AER was increasingly asked to consider and adjudicate on political, not technical and economic matters. Alberta’s energy regulator was not created to make political decisions, nor should it be permitted to do so. Industry participants observe that since creation, the AER has tried to be a mediator between the increasingly polarized forces for and against industrial development.
But the industry has learned the hard way that many fossil fuel opponents are loath to compromise. They remain opposed. Period. The concept of acquiring a so-called “social license” through inclusion and consultation is increasingly recognized as unworkable.
Perhaps because the industry has destroyed all working trust it used to have in communities with its ever growing greed, nastier synergy deceptions, more cruel abuse and increased desire to rape more and more and more without fixing anything companies destroy or kill!
It’s now been 15.5 years since Encana broke the law and frac’d directly into Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, with EUB/ERCB/AER doing nothing but bully, threaten, shame, blame, lie, cover-up, deregulate, and violate Ernst’s Charter rights.
Is AER or Encana paying the near $700,000 dollars for the Hamlet of Rosebud’s new water tower after the original tower blew up in an explosion apparently caused by an accumulation of gases after Encana’s illegal aquifers fracs? No. The ordinary people of the community are.
2005: Investigators say an accumulation of gases appears to have caused the explosion that destroyed the Rosebud water tower and sent a Wheatland County employee to hospital
When’s AER going to criminally charge Encana for violating AEPEA and the Water Act by illegally fracturing and diverting fresh water from Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, and releasing gases that contaminated citizen water wells and blew up the community’s water tower?
Comment to Andrew Nikiforuk’s article in The Tyee on the Ernst lawsuit:
In a perfect world a capable regulator is supposed to de-politicize development issues and mediate conflict. In reality, regulators have unfortunately become ground zero for the future of the fossil fuel industries and the politics of carbon resources.
[And there is the key word! EUB/ERCB/AER has proven itself, over and over and over again, incapable of appropriately respectfully, safely managing Alberta’s energy industry while mitigating the inevitable toxic pollution and providing “economic benefits” to all Albertans.
Where are the “benefits” economically to Daunheimers? To Campbells? To Zimmermans? To Stewart Shields? To Graffs? To Lauridsens? To Signers? To Wises? To Hawkwoods and their neighbours in the Lochend?
To Jacks? etc. etc. etc.
Who reimburses Ernst the $400,000.00 in legal costs so far incurred that came from her life-long savings, the thousands of dollars spent for her to haul safe alternate water for over a decade, the loss of her career and business because she chose to speak out about the law violations? Who fixes her community’s water supply that Encana intentionally and brutally frac’d (raped), covered-up and enabled by AER – an abuse enabler worse than the Catholic Church covering-up its scourge of priestly and Cardinal pedophilia?]
Primary Issues Facing the AER and Government Today
Mature Asset Retirement
A major and relatively new issue is mature assets that are no longer economically viable to operate. There were none in 1938. The law is clear. This remains the responsibility of the mineral title holder or asset owner. However, economics and regulations are not cooperating. [all nicely enabled by the 100% industry funded and controlled disaster for Alberta and her people that is the AER]
This has become a significant issue since 2014. It has grown because of collapsed natural gas prices, soft oil prices, inadequate pipeline takeaway capacity, and poor capital markets for all but the largest operators. This has been compounded by a myriad of new compliance and cleanup regulations which has increased decommissioning costs. Many of today’s rules didn’t exist when older assets were created.
Starting in 2015 more companies became financially insolvent before they could fulfill their asset retirement obligations. Their wells and surface assets ended up in the Orphan Well Fund which is funded by industry. [to an embarrassingly tiny degree] The number of wells under administration in the fund skyrocketed from a few dozen in 2012 to over 2,500 in early 2019.
After first introducing Directive 6 in 2013, in 2016 the AER increased the LLR, or Licensee Liability Rating. This was a calculation of a producers’ future retirement obligations compared to historical cash flow. Companies with insufficient cash flow to cover future obligations were required to put more funds on deposit with the AER.
Brilliant comment by Diana Daunheimer, mother of two, family frac’d near Didsbury, posted at AER:
For the AER to send essentially a junior lawyer, that has no experience, other than working at the AER, to represent an issue worth well over $30 billion dollars to the taxpayers of Alberta, demonstrates exactly how the AER operates with no public interest mandate and owe no duty of care to Albertans. This case, before the SCC, has the potential to impact public liabilities for all resource operations, and only the most experienced and senior AER counsel should have been representing the interests of Alberta.
Of course, it never should have come to this and the AER alone, is to blame. In over 75 years of regulation, the AER (and all previous namesakes) have failed to implement any directives or regulations that pertain to appropriate timelines for remediation and reclamation of inactive or suspended well sites. Additionally, the LLR is ineffective and the AER rubber stamps every transfer of licenses, even when the buyer is unsuitable. For instance, the Sequoia transfers and subsequent insolvency. Since under REDA, the AER can not be held legally liable for any of their regulatory actions or inactions, they can remain wilfully negligent regarding the responsible management and directing the timely closure of over 84,000 inactive well sites in the province, or the transfer of licenses to ineligible, barley solvent operators.
Finally, it stands to mention, it was our provincial bank, ATB, that started this fiscal hot potato with unproductive assets. ATB’s poor lending choices, to which there still exists billions of unpaid debt, will end up being the burden of the public, which is entirely unacceptable. Every Albertan should divest from ATB, until they alter their policies to accept all liabilities, to which they agreed to finance.
This required operators with liquidity challenges caused primarily by gas prices – and other issues beyond their control including rising municipal property taxes and pipeline takeaway restraints – to come up with more cash. This created a financial death spiral for troubled companies, evidenced by the massive increase in wells under administration by the Orphan Well Fund.
This was accompanied by restrictions on assets sales and purchases. Using mineral title transfer legislation as a control tool, the AER became actively involved in the process of companies buying and selling assets among each other. Cracking down on questionable operators exploiting the system to buy and milk cheap assets with no intention of ever decommissioning them is one thing. Intervening in routine transactions required by struggling but honest operators to restructure a diversified asset portfolio in tough times is another.
Application Reviews and Delays
It is widely accepted that Alberta has one of the most heavily [DE]regulated oil and gas industries in the world. …
Internal – Industry
Most of the operating process improvements have come from industry in conjunction with regulators. The regulator sets the rules; the industry figures out how to comply. [pffft! That’s ridiculous! CAPP/industry et al dictate the rules, write the rules, and dewrite the rules and do what they want] They are generally positive because they protect workers and citizens [WHERE? HOW?!!], extend the life of assets, result in lower future cleanup costs, and often make long term investments more profitable as higher upfront costs are recovered over the life of the asset. …
External – AER and Society
External forces have increased tremendously in the past 25 years. The scope of environmental protection has expanded from nearby (an oil or gas producing facility near a house or community) to global (opposition to any oil and gas development by opponents that don’t live in the area, region, province or even the country).
[Again, the oil and gas industry, with it’s enabler, the AER, is its own roadkill. Had companies operated with integrity, ethics, polluted much less, remediated, cleaned up, told the truth, never started synergy propaganda programs, never frac’d academia and schools, took responsibility instead of blaming harmed families and communities, never started the insanely harmful frac’ing, shut down their vile lying incredibly expensive lobby machines (CAPP, CSUR – previously CSUG – et al) etc, there might not be much opposition at home or globally]
The Future of the AER
… It is widely believed [BY INDUSTRY/CAPP/AER/CORRUPTED POLITICIANS?] that everything related to oil and gas applications and approvals takes longer in Alberta than other jurisdictions. [Or is this whine just more set up to deregulate more, and make politicians give billion dollar profiting companies more gifts from struggling Albertans?] An objective comparison is useful and timely.
It seems rising costs, approval delays, rule changes, uncertain outcomes and an unpredictable regulatory regime are a new form of “no” because industry’s resources to push projects forward at all costs are finite. Opponents of development have figured this out and are hardly disappointed if and when applicants give up. That industry must spend significant sums of money advocating for a project with an uncertain outcome was a major source of opposition to Bill C-69. Is it any different for the AER? [Sounds like CAPP wrote this piece!]
Is it possible for the AER to fulfill its historic mandate while dealing with today’s increasingly complex and politically charged development issues in a classic, regulatory-driven, process review fashion using a model created in an entirely different political and economic climate?
[Sure it is! The courts and government gave AER:
“No Duty of Care!”
Legal Immunity, even for violating Canada’s top law – the Charter!
No Public Interest mandate!~
No economic mandate!
No public health mandate!
Free use by AER and companies of the taxpayer-funded RCMP and anti-terrorist squads to harass and try to intimidate harmed Albertans, while covering-up corporate crimes!
Total control of Alberta’s fresh water to destroy however companies want with their frac’ing!
100% funded and controlled by industry!
Set up extraordinaire for companies to eat each other up so as to intentionally dump clean-up on companies that intentionally go bankrupt!
AER = Charter-violating, Lying, Spying, Bullying, Abusive, Shameful Slime.]
Was it ever contemplated that the AER would have to make decisions that would, could or should satisfy everyone in an era when the only acceptable outcome for a growing number of people is “no”? [Damn right, the answer is NO!] That any decision, no matter how thoroughly it was researched and considered, would be unacceptable if the final conclusion is approval? [Because nearly always, it’s not well researched, if relating to the oil and gas industry; nearly always, it’s AER/industry-controlled propaganda and lies, and always harmful to the public (Refer to cartoon from Justice Perras report at top of this post). The companies, regulators, many educated, intelligent (not many of those around anymore) politicians and even frac’d academics know it]
… But there is significant evidence that other stakeholders must also be consulted. [Another big typical regulator problem, not just limited to AER: they refuse to honestly, fairly, appropriately, integrally and decently consult with the public, and harmed landowners and communities. Instead, they lie and lie and lie, the lie even to the courts, and spy on the most important stakeholders, and they synergize all NGOs that they can into vile abusive propaganda machines that only benefit themselves and industry]
Any review of the AER must include an objective and honest analysis and understanding of all the issues facing resource development, including politics, because the AER will never succeed in a different form without first establishing a clear vision of what it should be, and how executing the desired outcome will be accomplished.
If the province concludes the AER’s existing mandate is appropriate, then elected politicians must also determine how they can help the AER fulfill it. This will require public political positions, decisions and possibly policies that will not be universally popular and may in fact be controversial. Sending complex issues to a regulatory body simply to avoid political fallout and criticism will no longer work in the 21st century.
The operations of the AER must be transformed from box-checking on a list that grows longer and more complex each year to wise decisions in the best interests of the majority of Albertans made by capable individuals with extensive experience in the legal and technical complexities of industry and regulatory processes.
From the outside looking in, that would be a materially different AER that the one that currently exists.
Based in Calgary, David Yager is the author of From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. Learn more at www.miracletomenace.ca
Refer also to:
Why no discussion on improving relations with industry-harmed Albertans and improving protections for landowners and their homes, health, water, farms and lands, notably to put the public interest back in the AER’s mandate, and remove its legal immunity?
Refer also to:
Comments to Cleaning up Alberta’s oilpatch could cost $260 billion, internal documents warn by Alberta mum and farmer Diana Daunheimer Wayne Ouellette And the AER admitted the “contigency” fund is woefully inadequate and the program ineffective:
Dont worry, that witch #Notley will find a way to blame #BC for the mess in her own backyard and say we caused it because she couldnt stop crying long enough to get the pipe. And BC is supposed to be convinced that Alberta bitumen wont poison our land, rivers,streams and prime Ocean fronts! Ya right.
How true and the irony of the fact that the CEO of the AER, Jim Ellis, appears to reside in Penticton, BC, expensing about $4000 per month in travel costs:
AER Expense Disclosures Jim Ellis:
“13-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 66.96 Receipt
18-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 66.36 Receipt
21-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 32.66 Receipt
21-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 38.88 Receipt
25-Jun-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 531.30 Receipt
25-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 56.10 Receipt
28-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 18.00 Receipt
28-Jun-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 50.64 Receipt
13-Jul-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 359.36 Receipt
13-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 35.28 Receipt
13-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 66.72 Receipt
13-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 56.10 Receipt
23-Jul-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 558.86 Receipt
23-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 44.04 Receipt
23-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 33.84 Receipt
24-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 75.00 Receipt
24-Jul-18 Lunch Calgary AER meetings $ 9.21 Receipt
30-Jul-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 45.48 Receipt
31-Jul-18 Breakfast Calgary Meeting with Dave Pryce (Pryce Consulting) $ 47.88 Receipt
31-Jul-18 Dinner Calgary Meeting with Alex Pourbaix (Cenovus) $ 60.73 Receipt
2-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 17.52 Receipt
2-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 46.56 Receipt
7-Aug-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 350.96 Receipt
7-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 53.76 Receipt
9-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 38.64 Receipt
9-Aug-18 Breakfast Calgary Meeting with Craig Watt (Alberta Energy) $ 64.26 Receipt
13-Aug-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 361.06 Receipt
13-Aug-18 Parking Calgary Meeting with Lance Mortlock (Ernst & Young) $ 16.80 Receipt
13-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 43.80 Receipt
16-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 39.36 Receipt
20-Aug-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 668.06
27-Aug-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 201.60
27-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 46.20 Receipt
28-Aug-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 385.61
30-Aug-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 42.24 Receipt
4-Sep-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 376.16
4-Sep-18 Taxi Calgary AER meetings $ 46.20 Receipt
10-Sep-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 340.46
17-Sep-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 325.76
24-Sep-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 342.56
1-Oct-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 562.01
10-Oct-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 311.06
18-Oct-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 334.16
29-Oct-18 Airfare (return) Penticton to Calgary AER meetings $ 317.36″
Even I had not thought the liabilities will cost never this much.
The Tapcal Trust Fund PCs are to blame for this downloading of the liabilities to us.
The NDP folks just continued the same practices to ensure profits for the oil industry and revenue for the government of Alberta.
UCP will be no different and even worse as the Kenney will increase our liabilities by paying for lawsuits against citizens who yap about these problems.
I guess our kids and grandkids will pay for the stupidity, greed and self interest of politicians and their buddies.
The citizens also (at least some of them commenting here) appear to be indifferent to future costs and just want the oil industry to provide jobs and cash.
Which is fine.
But in my opinion, this party is over.
And payment time for the party is coming up.
The Alberta oil corporations should clean-up their own messes.
It is so disingenous of the NDP and Premier Notley to keep regurgitating and pointing the finger at the 44 years of conservative government. There are inactive wells on the Directive 13 listing dating back to the 1960’s. There has not been a time in Alberta’s history, or present day, that proper legislation and appropriate fiscal management of liable assets has been implemented or enforced by our government or regulator.
Just stop the juvenile blame game on the previous party and enact the proper legislation to mitigate the issue and protect the public from hundreds of billions in liabilities.
Naw… the government who pissed away everything for 44 years and likes to take care of those who left the messes behind are not sluffing it off on The New Government or claiming it’s fake news.
I voted NDP, had naive hopes that they would do as promised in their platform, review the mandate of the AER, review fracking and urban drilling, and increase environmental monitoring, get Alberta “fair share”, none of which they did. In the nearly four years since their election, I have called on them dozens of times to fix these issues and numerous others, forwarding dozens of AER records, legal documents, industry files and even recordings with AER inspectors, synergy meetings and industry operators, to show the level of non-compliance and collusion.
What did the NDP do? Block me on social media and ignore those emails.
I also wrote a lengthy article for the ATA Connections publication, “Understanding Hydraulic Fracturing in Alberta”, to which I mentioned the increasing and unsustainable liabilities, at the time estimated to be $30 billion by the AER. Instead of addressing all the verifiable and factual information I presented to the Association, Premier Notley made a gross and inflammatory display of attending the conference, debating platitudes using horse and unicorn references, to counter the sensationalist dribble of the most disreputable Tzeporah Berman.
Naw, the NDP are really just the NDPC, leaving more of a mess, and sluffing it off just the same.
Diana Daunheimer okay. Your clearly upset because we don’t have control over lots of oil field practices. Highly understandable. This quarter Trillion cleanup bill is something that was not amassed under The current Premier, she is simply taking good care of the people of Alberta, the bottom line, she needs Oil money to pay the bills. It’s what her people want.
If she needs oil money, why did she lower the royalty take to the lowest in the history of the province and hand out nearly $10 billion in subsidies, tax breaks and royalty credits, in just under 4 years? Corporate moll just like the rest of them, “her people” just don’t read the legislation, or follow her policies close enough to see, with regards to oil and gas operations, she is exactly like the past 44 years, if not worse.
We have no control over any oil and gas policies, the AER was put in place to obfuscate and violate our basic charter rights for the benefit of industry, and the regulator is totalitarian. Only when they frack by your home, will you appreciate what I mean and only then will you see the real Notley, as she leaves her people to be poisoned.
The orphan well fund nearly quadrupled under the NDP, the inactive well list grew considerably, the first oilsands operation was abandoned and the provincial bank, ATB, managed to circumvent provincial polluter pay regulations to renounce unproductive assets, all while Notley knew and did nothing.
Mike Kruper Notley is part of the problem. If she doesn’t do anything about it she’s a captive politician just like the Tapcal Trust Fund PCs were. So why would we not blame her like we blamed the PCs?
Can’t have it both ways. Don’t do the required work, get the blame.
But the presentation is from the Alberta Energy Regulator, responsible for all oil, gas, coal and bitumen operations in the province.
Actually I have been impressed with the FACT that Global tackles issues that no other newspaper does. Seniors abuse cases, oil industry pollution and general failures by politicians. This is a good investigative piece.
I note the AER is now following up with disclaimers that it’s own data is all a lie when it probably an underestimation of costs for remediation:
$260B liability figure for abandoned energy infrastructure an ‘error in judgment’: AER
METRIC – Lie Lie Lie (Official Version)
Fake news at the highest level.
The presentation is from the Alberta Energy Regulator, the provincial corporation responsible for all oil, gas, coal and bitumen operations in the province. The are the highest level all right, but certainly not fake.
Of course, many Albertan’s know little to nothing, about our 100% industry funded, legally immune regulator, tasked with obfuscating and violating the constitutional rights of Albertans on behalf of industry.
You are right. Fake news from the AER which must mean that the oil industry regulator knows zilch?
I think not.
Did you read the part where the industry regulator is providing these estimates? Not the NDP government?
The oil industry regulator.
If Shannon Phillips was actually taking this issue seriously, why was I blocked from her social media page and ghosted in direct emails, regarding these very issues? The NDP are highly complicit and have done short of nothing to mitigate provincial liabilties.
What is far worse, Shanon Phillips and the NDP caucus, including Premier Notley are allowing the AER to mislead Albertans on their response to serious incidents of deliberate industry non-compliance, including sour gas events, affecting public health. The AER has written, published and distrubuted several, Human Health Complaints Technical Synthesis, despite having no public health mandate. The Didsbury report, was written, published and distributed to our local councillors Bruce Beattie, Al Kemmere (of AAMDC now RMA), Synergy Alberta groups (SPOG, CMAG), and the Parkland Airshed Management Zone, and more, all without our knowledge, involvement or consent. The report is full of omissions, misleading or fabricated information and is a direct violation of our privacy, sharing medical information about our children and the location of our home.
The primary author of the report, Dr. Monique Dube was fired “without cause” from the the AER, but the report, despite our numerous respectful calls for removal remains. Even our elected official, Nathan Cooper, emailed Shannon Phillips several times, requesting the removal of the report, based on privacy violations, and the minister failed to reply. APEGA relied on this report to terminate an investigation into professional engineers, even though the report comes with a diclaimer that it can not be relied upon by anyone. Alberta Health and AHS both also refuse to assist in the removal of the report, appallingly, Medical Officers of Health worked with the AER on the report.
The AER set out to humiliate and discredit, via bad faith, any Albertan with concerns regarding health impacts resulting from fracking operations near their homes and in their communities. The NDP is fully aware these reports are violating and unfactual and can easily compare extensive evidence we have emailed them, which is also filed with the Court of Queens Bench in Daunheimer v. Angle Energy/Bellatrix Exploration 1301-14429.
Yet the NDP have chosen to do nothing and have let the legally immune AER deceive the province on serious issues pertaining to public health and contamination events.
Shannon Phillips, Rachel Notley, you are a dishonorable people and do not deserve to represent any province.
The NDP MLAs are no different than the Tapcal Trust Fund PCs but their supporters believe they are better.
Troubling to see the indifference of the people we voted for.
But more worrisome is the abject deference of the Kenney to the oil industry to the point of getting taxpayers to pay for SLAPP lawsuits against environmental groups.
One wonders if any political party is free from this sort of capture?
Good thing the oil there is worth 60X that amount.
Not really. The oil in place, known as Proved, Proved plus Probable and Probable reserves are used by industry to receive financing for operations. The oil, gas and bitumen in place is already fiscally spoken for and if you review the debt burden of the industry, it’s already been spent. Just look at what is owed to ATB alone, and it’s the very reason why they launched the Redwater case, to renounce unproductive assets they agreed to finance, only to dump them on the public, this from our provincial bank. Everyone should divest from ATB in protest
“Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)”:
Is that a code for: Notely or NDP?
It is code for the front office of the oil industry. REDA -the legislation enacted by the Tapcal Trust Fund PCs allows them to work without any requirement to work in the public interest.
You can see the evidence of this in the big bill and liability the oil industry is leaving to future generations.
As Diana said below. This report is Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is 100% industry funded corporation. This should help some of you folks from embarrassing political, fake MSN news comments…oops, too late.
So if these sums of money will need to be paid eventually, are we even making money out of the oil sands? Would be nice if the article could compare profits to pricing of cleaning up.
Andrii Prychepa Blame Trudeau for what? 44 years of Tapcal Trust Fund PCs evading polluter pay requirements? Don’t make me laugh. Maybe you should read more audits.
Ralph Klein’s multibillion dollar liability is about to blow up in Alberta’s face
By Regan Boychuk in Analysis, Energy, Politics | April 3rd 2017
Guess which party allowed this mess to happen in the first place. I will give you a hint. Their initials are PC. If you want to see where the money went, see the mansions and Ferraris of the Alberta 1% friends of the party.
The NDP is just as guilty, they have been informed of these issues from the beginning of their tenure and have done nothing to mitigate the problem. They did however increase the subsidies, by nearly 10 billion, to industry, decreased royalties to the lowest in the history of the province, exempt industry from carbon costs, failed to address the mandate of the AER (which operates with no public interest), failed to implement any legislation or directives to change the LLR, security deposit and inactive well list mess, permitted ATB to file the Redwater case and renounce unproductive assets….
And your point?
Diana Daunheimer I agree that the NDP should be doing a lot more. Do you honestly think that Kenny will address this problem, however?
Wayne Ouellette I believe it’s on your head.
I expect that Kenney will be worse, but that does not mean the NDP should be excused of their culpability in the matter. We need a new party, one that actually represents the public interest and are not corporate molls.
Mary Anne Clarke
AER was founded by the gov’t was it not? With language like “estimated liability”, the comments above are just more sensationalistic journalism.
Under the Responsible Energy and Development Act (REDA) the AER is an 100% industry funded corporation, that is not an agent of the Crown, owe no duty of care to the public, are not beholden to the Public Service Act, operate with no public interest or public health mandate and are legally immune from all their regulatory actions or inactions.
If and when Albertans are forced to pay for the hundreds of billions in oil, gas, coal and bitumen liabilities, the AER can not be held legally liable for their admitted failure to properly manage those liabilities, collect the sufficient funds for abandoment and reclamation of well sites and facilities, or for approving licenses or the transfer of licenses to barely solvent operators.
All future liabilities are estimates. It is impossilbe to foretell just how much any one well or facility will cost to remediate and reclaim, until the process is occurring and complete. There are dozens of aspects that can be encountered that may increase or decrease costs, when engaging in reclamation activities.
“The report does not spell out what he based his estimate on and Wadsworth declined an interview.” Okay, so without that supporting information, how is it even possible to determine validity? Great for media sensationalism, but just a lengthy article of nonsense otherwise.
And yet the AER is somehow providing these estimates. Hmm.. not nonsense but damning evidence of the captive nature of both the Tapcal Trust Fund PCs and the NDP folks. No doubt Kenney will be worse as UCP folks appear to be interested in suing citizens who protest this sort of downloading of liabilities to them.
Alberta will expect Canadian taxpayers to pay for the cleanup.
You bet! Aren’t you glad you’re destitute?
Mark Edgell What did you say, pedophile?
Kelly Morris So you are saying that information presented by AER is false? This is the regulator for the oil industry:
Cleaning up the Alberta oilpatch could cost an estimated $260 billion, internal regulatory documents warn.
The staggering financial liabilities for the energy industry’s mining waste and graveyard of spent facilities were spelled out by a high-ranking official of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in a presentation to a private audience in Calgary in February
Hold the hysteria. It will be in production for another 50-75 years. Why is this even published. Even the simple minded understand there will be work to be done in the next century.
And I guess this is all that matters to you? You get the work, the kids get the liabilities? Nice legacy.
Ralph Klein’s multibillion dollar liability is about to blow up in Alberta’s face
By Regan Boychuk in Analysis, Energy, Politics | April 3rd 2017
Global deleting comments I see.
Although the AER loves to hide things from the public, which they obviously intended here, but were foiled by the FOIP, it would be hard pressed to call this presentation fake news.
In fact, I have to give Robert Wadsworth credit, this is the most strikingly honest account by the AER I’ve seen in over 10 years. He might just get fired now. Usually the AER self promotes to the nines, “best in class”, “world class”, even paid Penn State U, nearly $2 million for a “best in class” back slapping report.
Review the Scribed report, linked above.
Then the oil companies had better start putting money aside and paying to clean up the mess they have created in Alberta.
Oil companies have contingency funds for this purpose. Wipe away your tears.
Right and that $260 billion for the clean up will be a cost that will be passed on to consumers in the price of oil.
The taxpayer/customer/consumer always pays.
The oil companies will leave the mess and Alberta will expect the Canadian taxpayer to pick up the tab. And they wonder why we don’t want more oil on the west coast.
Chris Elliston how much is Trudeau paying you to spew such lies and nonsense?
And the AER admitted the “contigency” fund is woefully inadequate and the program ineffective.
Wayne Ouellette Do they have a contingency fund this big?
Cleaning up the Alberta oilpatch could cost an estimated $260 billion, internal regulatory documents warn.
The staggering financial liabilities for the energy industry’s mining waste and graveyard of spent facilities were spelled out by a high-ranking official of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in a presentation to a private audience in Calgary in February
Daryl Arr Nice. You blame Trudeau when the AER is the ALBERTA energy regulator?
Your reasoning is odd.