The Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) strongly cautions farmers and ranchers not to follow recommendations from a surface rights group in the province that advised they, “safely turn off the power to the well and safely close the valves.”

The FAO says that it is very important that rural Albertans understand that following this reckless advice can pose risks to personal and public safety, create environmental hazards and could result in exposure to legal claims for damages and criminal charges.

Interfering with any oil and gas infrastructure or that of an electrical distribution utility could create public safety risks including spills of liquids and gases, explosions, fires and electrocution.

Many landowners are rightfully frustrated when oil and gas operators fail to live up to their obligations under a surface lease. However, before acting, landowners should seek specific legal advice to understand their rights, responsibilities and risks prior to taking any steps to deal with contractual breaches by operators.

Note: A landowner has recourse to obtain compensation for unpaid or reduced annual rentals through the Surface Rights Board (SRB) under Section 36 of the Surface Rights Act (SRA). A company cannot unilaterally decide to reduce the amount of annual compensation provided to a landowner for loss of use and adverse effect. Section 27(6) of the SRA entitles landowners the opportunity to negotiate with industry in good faith. Negotiations must be honest, fair and engage both parties, and recourse to the SRB for a ruling may be had if no agreement can be reached.

For more information on the SRA Section 36 Recovery of Rentals process, reach the SRB at 780-427-2444, email srblcb@gov.ab.ca or visit the Alberta Surface Rights Board website.

Contact

Connect with the FAO through the Alberta Ag-Info Centre:

Hours: 8 am to 5 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 310-FARM (3276)
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-427-3913
Email: farmers.advocate@gov.ab.ca

Address:
Farmers' Advocate Office (FAO)
Suite 100, 7000 113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 5T6