Canada's Alberta province passes law for single energy regulator by Jun 2013
Calgary (Platts)--23Nov2012/809 am EST/1309 GMT
The legislative assembly in Canada's Alberta province passed legislation
Thursday to set up a single regulator by June 2013 to monitor oil, natural
gas, oil sands and coal development and also reduce red tape and long delays
in project approvals.
Under the law called the Responsible Energy Development Act, or Bill 2,
a new agency -- the Alberta Energy Regulator -- will take over the
responsibilities of the three provincial regulators -- the Energy Resources
Conservation Board, Alberta Environment and Alberta Sustainable Resource
Development, the provincial government said.
"The act achieves the right balance, as it improves participation rights
of landowners, provides regulatory certainty for energy companies and upholds
our long-standing commitment to the environment. The single regulatory
approach is something this province needs and this is the right time,"
Alberta's Energy Minister Ken Hughes said in a statement.
The new regulator will be governed by a board of directors, with a chief
executive officer. Also, a transparent and accountable appeals process will
be established and hearings will be conducted by independent hearing
commissioners, Hughes said.
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The setting up of a unified regulator comes nearly two years after the
ruling Progressive Conservative party set up a regulatory enhancement
taskforce to streamline the working of Alberta's energy regulators.
Ram Varadarajan, a vice-president with Canadian oil sands startup Black
Pearl Resources said it takes about 5-7 years to receive regulatory approvals
in Alberta, resulting in cost escalation and cancellation of projects.
"International and Canadian oil companies are expected to invest nearly
C$60 billion [$60.2 billion] in 2013 in Alberta's oil sands. A single-window
clearance system will now facilitate approvals and the process will become
more predictable," he said.
On October 18, his company submitted an application to the ERCB seeking
approval to build a 80,000 b/d in-situ oil sands facility in northern Alberta.
Meanwhile, the act has drawn criticism from the opposition Wildrose
Party in Alberta, with its leader Danielle Smith alleging Thursday that Bill
2 has been criticized by landowners, industry experts, academics, lawyers and
other key stakeholders as a "colossal gaffe by the Alberta government," and
"sloppy legal drafting and bad policy as it strips the most affected by
energy projects of their legal right."
"We had a chance to make this law work for Albertans and have productive
solutions to get it done through additional amendments, but this government
has failed to listen to the concerns of landowners and industry groups in
Alberta," she said, in a statement.
Hughes said certain amendments were made to the bill including making it
mandatory for the new regulatory agency to issue a public notice for all
project applications it receives and allowing a stakeholder to file a
"We know there is more work to do and in the new year we will be
consulting stakeholders on the issue of landowners rights. Albertans will
always retain access to courts if their issues are not addressed by the new
regulator," Hughes said.
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