About oil sands tenure

This overview of oil sands tenure includes an introduction to oil sands regulatory processes.


The term “tenure” describes the system through which Crown-owned mineral rights are leased and administered. This includes oil sands rights.

The tenure system facilitates the leasing of these rights. This makes it possible for individuals and companies to explore for and develop Alberta’s mineral resources. This benefits the citizens of the province.

Developing oil sands

There is guidance for potential developers and producers who are new to the development of oil sands in Alberta.

This guide includes how to:

  • acquire an agreement from the Crown
  • start the development process
  • follow the agreement to pay Crown royalties

More detailed information can be found in the Oil Sands Tenure Guidelines.

Acquiring rights

To acquire oil sands rights, a corporation must be registered to conduct business in the Province of Alberta. It also must comply with Section 23 of the Mines and Minerals Act.

Crown-owned oil sands rights are disposed by means of agreements under Section 16 of the act. As per the act, agreements convey the right to do the following in oil sands that are owned by the Crown:

  • drill
  • win
  • work
  • recover
  • remove

Types of agreements

The 2 types of oil sands agreements are:

  • permits issued for a term of 5 years
  • leases issued for a term of 15 years

Ways to acquire agreements

There are 2 ways to acquire oil sands agreements.

Public offerings

The rights to developed lands are leased through Public Offerings. These are commonly referred to as land sales.

The public offerings schedule is published 2 years in advance by Alberta Energy and Minerals so that potential bidders may strategize accordingly. Sales of oil sands rights are initiated by posting requests submitted by companies or individuals through the Electronic Transfer System (ETS).

Direct purchase

If no rights have been requested, there is no need to hold a sale. Companies or individuals who wish to acquire undisposed oil sands rights request a posting for a specific sale date to the Crown through ETS.

Other resources

Learn more about tenure with the following resources.

Mail lists

Subscribe to the 3 mail lists that are offered (public offerings, royalty or tenure notices). There is no charge for subscribing to this service.


Annual rental payments for oil sands agreements must be arranged through the Oil sands payments section of this site.


Search surface public land and Crown mineral disposition and activity is essential when managing agreements that cover publicly owned resources, it includes:

  • Geographic Land Information Management and Planning System: Alberta surface public lands
  • Alberta Mineral Information: Crown Mineral dispositions and activities

DRRZD library

Deeper rights reversion zone designation (DRRZD) identifies a zone by its name.

Historically, the name of the zone identified within type wells takes precedence over the depths identified in terms of utilizing a DRRZD. This is noted in the Alberta Energy Regulator Decision 95-10.

To learn more, refer to the DRRZD and ZD library.

Oil sands publications

Energy industry documents includes oil sands publications and maps.


Connect with Oil Sands, Coal and Mineral Operations:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

Oil Sands Royalty Project Applications and Compliance [email protected]
Oil Sands Royalty Administration [email protected]
Oil Sands Royalty Information Management [email protected]
Oil Sands Tenure [email protected]

Mailing Address:
Alberta Energy and Minerals
Oil Sands, Coal and Mineral Operations
6th floor, Petroleum Plaza, North Tower
9945 108 Street
Edmonton Alberta  T5K 2G6