Our Expanding Mandate
Under the direction of the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Energy Regulator's (AER's) mandate is expanding from oil, oil sands, natural gas, and coal to include additional areas of resource development, such as geothermal and minerals.
Once the Government of Alberta enacts the legislation and regulations, we will develop the rules and directives to regulate each new area of resource development. The directives will ensure that development is carried out to protect public safety and the environment while ensuring that the regulatory system is as efficient as possible.
In 2020, the Government of Alberta announced the opportunity to develop emerging energy and mineral resources in Alberta. This work is part of the government's economic recovery effort to relaunch and diversify Alberta's economy.
Alberta Energy and Alberta Environment and Parks began work on diversifying the province's resource sector by developing legislation that would establish the AER as the primary regulator for new areas of resource development within Alberta.
New Resource Potential
Geothermal Resource Development
Using emerging made-in-Alberta technology and building on decades of drilling expertise, the Government of Alberta is taking steps to create the conditions for industry to safely harness clean geothermal energy. For example, existing oil and gas wells may be repurposed for geothermal energy, encouraging this type of development while minimizing environmental effects.
Over the next decade or so, the primary market for geothermal energy produced in Alberta will likely be local municipalities and industries needing power and heat. The Government of Alberta anticipates geothermal development will help meet long-term energy demand across Canada and the United States. The knowledge and technical expertise gained in the near term will help Alberta build a successful geothermal export market.
Alberta has several advantages for developing geothermal energy:
- natural geological advantage
- the opportunity to repurpose inactive oil and gas wells, well sites, and infrastructure
- leadership and innovation in drilling technology
- extensive oil and gas expertise and a well-established service sector
While the Geothermal Resource Development Act and associated regulation is now in force, the AER is finalizing the requirements that industry must follow when developing geothermal resources. The AER will publish final requirements in summer 2022.
Mineral Resource Development
The Government of Alberta’s plan to diversify the energy and resource sector includes mineral resource development. Bill 82 Mineral Resource Development Act establishes the AER as the life cycle regulator for Alberta’s mineral resources. Regulatory oversight for minerals is currently split among multiple entities. As the primary regulator for energy development within the province, the AER is well positioned to take on this responsibility. Our mandate is to ensure the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of oil, oil sands, natural gas, and coal resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.
We are committed to building programs, systems, and processes to help industry reduce liability throughout the entire life cycle of resource development. We work collaboratively with governments and companies to develop and implement liability management programs for all resource sectors, helping protect Albertans from potential environmental issues and costs associated with the closure of resource projects. More information on liability management, including how it may impact the regulation of geothermal and minerals, will become available in 2022.
We will continue to seek input from the public, stakeholders, and Indigenous communities to help shape the requirements for emerging resources.
Engagement events and public comment periods are posted on our website. You can subscribe to aer.ca email updates, and you can follow us on our social media channels to stay informed.
Once we start accepting applications, there are several ways to have your say and to get involved with proposed projects that may affect you.