The new process is fairer, faster and more accessible, saving industry hundreds of millions of dollars while making the process more transparent and accessible for Albertans.
To date, this approach has saved industry more than $140 million, with an expected $600 million in direct savings by 2021. Before being fully implemented, it was tested in several pilots with industry, including an application from Suncor for its Meadow Creek East oil sands project. The regulatory review was cut from an estimated five years down to just 15 months.
“We're fighting for jobs and making our oil and gas sector more competitive by modernizing the application process for energy projects. This saves industry time and money, while making it easier for everyday folks to make their voices heard. These improvements are a win for communities and a win for hard-working people in Alberta's energy industry.”
Several months of work between the government and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) resulted in a more open and modernized process that acts as a “one-stop” software tool and eliminates the burden of unnecessary paperwork.
This new process, known as the Integrated Decision Approach, was implemented by the AER as part of a review of industry competitiveness and upholds Alberta's world-leading environmental protection and strong public safety record.
A smaller heavy oil development proposal from Canadian Natural Resources saved nearly $1 million and four months in regulatory time under its test case of the new approach.
The modern, streamlined regulatory system will process applications quicker, prevent companies from having to repeatedly submit the same information and be more transparent by ensuring one application means one review and one decision.
“One of the AER’s objectives is to find efficiencies by eliminating duplication and simplifying the regulatory approvals process. The Integrated Decision Approach has improved regulatory efficiency and provides us with a path forward for further savings in the future.”
Alberta families and municipalities will benefit from the simpler, fairer process by being provided information upfront about the potential impact of a project on their community and the process for having their concerns addressed. This makes the regulatory process less expensive and less time-consuming to ensure landowners, municipalities and Indigenous communities can have their concerns addressed.
Many of the changes were based on adapting to modern industry practices such as longer horizontal drilling and drilling multiple wells from one location. The AER is also speeding up the approval process for various development and environmental permits including for borrow (gravel) pits and Water Act approvals. In all cases, government retains strong environmental regulatory oversight.
The government's focus on energy competitiveness is part of ongoing efforts to stand up for good-paying jobs in Alberta’s industry by ensuring the federal regulatory system reflects the unique character of the province's oil and gas sector and maintains an attractive investment climate.
Minister McCuaig-Boyd has spoken at the national level about the need for improvements to proposed legislation in order to improve Alberta's competitive position and make it easier to get things built, as the province continues to demonstrate a leadership role in economic growth and environmental protection.