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Project Application

More than 60 per cent of Alberta’s land mass is public land, which means it is not privately owned, held by the federal government for a national park, held by the provincial government for a provincial park, or First Nations reserve lands. Much of our province’s oil and gas activity takes place on public land. As Alberta continues to grow and prosper, the amount of oil and gas activity on our public lands will also grow.

The Public Lands Act is provincial legislation that ensures that oil and gas activity—as well as other land-use activity—on public land is done in a way that is safe and orderly and that protects the land for future generations. The Responsible Energy Development Act gives us the authority to administer parts of the Public Lands Act.

What We Regulate Under the Act

We are responsible for administering the Public Lands Act as it relates to approving public land use for oil, gas, oil sands, and coal activity. Simply stated, this authority allows us to regulate the entire life cycle of an energy resource project on public land. We

  • ensure that energy resource exploration, development, and ongoing operations on public land are carried out in a responsible manner;
  • issue, amend, maintain, and inspect all land-use dispositions and project applications; and
  • work closely with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) as co-managers of public lands in Alberta.

Read our fact sheet for more information about how we regulate energy resource development under the Public Lands Act.

Explaining Land-Use Dispositions
Companies wanting to use public land must apply to us for a “formal disposition.” In doing so, the company is expressing its interest in developing resources—in a specific way—on public land for a period of time.

The following are the types of formal dispositions that a company may request from us:

  • licence of occupation (LOC)
  • mineral surface lease (MSL)
  • miscellaneous lease (MLL)
  • pipeline agreement (PLA)
  • pipeline installation lease (PIL)
  • vegetation control easement (RVC)

See the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR) for more detailed information on formal dispositions.

What We Don’t Regulate

Our Public Lands Act responsibilities are specific to energy development. AEP holds authority over all other sectors (agricultural, commercial, industrial, etc.) and is responsible for policy, regulation, and legislation development regarding use of public land.

Application Process

Please note that we do not accept a renewal application if a disposition has expired. Companies with an expired disposition should email AERSurfaceActivityApplication@aer.ca.

Submit an Application Companies must apply through OneStop for a new formal disposition or to renew or amend an existing one. Review timelines depend on whether an application requires only an automated (baseline) review or also requires a manual review. Factors that determine the level of review include the disposition type, purpose, and activity. 

Companies must also use OneStop to apply for a regulator temporary field authorization (RTF; previously temporary field authorization [TFA]). However, the Temporary Field Authorization form, available on AEP’s website, must continue to be used when applying for a temporary field authorization for waivers or reclamation work. 

In preparing their disposition applications, companies are encouraged to use the Energy Development Planning Tool (EDPT) to

  • determine landscape sensitivities;
  • identify the standards and conditions associated with the company’s proposed activity; and
  • determine if a wildlife survey is needed to identify sensitive wildlife habitat features or species in the area.

If a wildlife survey is required, companies must include it in their submission. We may also request all wildlife survey documentation at any time. 

Other Information to Include

Public Lands Act applications must also include

Note: we do not review or approve oil sands exploration programs, coal exploration programs, and geophysical applications under this process. Please see Table A2 in the PLAR for more information.

Review Process

  1. We share all applications on our Public Notice of Application page to encourage public participation in the approval process.
  2. Anyone who believes they may be directly and adversely affected by an application can file a statement of concern (SOC). If we receive an SOC, it may take us longer to process the application.
  3. We will assign the application to a subject matter expert for initial review. If information is missing (i.e., the application is not complete), we will reject the application. Otherwise, we will proceed with a full technical review.
  4. We may request additional information (through a supplemental information request) to complete our technical review.
  5. If we reject the application, the applicant may reapply without prejudice. If we deny it, the applicant can file an appeal through our appeal process.
  6. If we approve the application, we will issue new, amended, or renewal disposition documents, depending on the type of application. The documents will include the following components:
  • administrative conditions
  • LAT report
  • land description
  • application supplement (with mitigation if applicable)
  • application plan
  • condition addendum (if applicable)
  1. We will email the company to notify them of our decision, which is accessible for 30 days through the Integrated Application Registry. We will also share our decision on our Publication of Decision page.

Additional Information

Term Timelines
A new disposition will be granted an initial term of up to 25 years.  Upon an amendment or renewal of a disposition, a term of up to 25 years will be considered. Pipelines are exceptions and are not given a specific tenure term. Depending on the purpose and disposition type, the term is subject to change. 

Amendment Applications
Companies that submit amendment applications should note the following:

  • Where the application proposes a change to the formal disposition (i.e., change in the disposition area, location, purpose, etc.), new application information will be required.
  • Applicants that propose a plan replacement (i.e., no change in the disposition area, location, purpose, etc.) can submit the plan through in OneStop. 

Companies must use the following application processes and forms when applying for development under the Public Lands Act.

Please be aware that forms may be removed from this page as we continue to transfer application processes to OneStop.

Application Business Processes

Forms

Many of these forms are hosted by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Visit the AEP's Forms page for more information.

We will consider a commercial user’s request to use a road licensed to another person in relation to an energy resource activity if they are unable to reach an agreement for use with the licence holder. We have this authority under section 98 of the Public Lands Administration Regulation and under the Specified Enactments (Jurisdiction) Regulation.

Who can file a request?
A commercial user (as defined in the Public Lands Administration Regulation) may file an application if they

  • must use a licensed road for commercial or business activities, and
  • have been unsuccessful in reaching an agreement with the holder of the occupation licence (the licensee).

How to File a Request
Commercial users must follow these steps to file a request:

  1. Complete our Road-Use Dispute – Request for Resolution form.
  2. Email the form and associated documents to RoadUse@aer.ca, fax it to 403-297-7031, or send it by regular mail to

    Alberta Energy Regulator
    Law Branch, Road-Use Disputes
    Suite 1000, 250 – 5 Street SW
    Calgary, Alberta T2P 0R4
     
  3. Provide a copy of the request to the licensee and any other party we require you to notify.

We may dismiss the request if the information is insufficient or if we consider it

  • frivolous, vexatious, or without merit; or
  • outside of our jurisdiction.

How to Withdraw a Request
If a commercial user decides to withdraw their request, a letter of withdrawal must be sent to the above address.

Our Dispute Resolution Process
After we have reviewed the request,

  • we may seek further information from one or more of the parties;
  • we may contact the parties to discuss pursuing a resolution through our alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. and
  • if ADR is unsuccessful, the matter may be subject to further proceedings.