Our commitment to ensuring that energy development in Alberta is sustainable includes holding companies accountable for their oilfield waste.
All energy development projects generate waste at one or more stages of their life cycles. Under the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules, companies must manage their oilfield waste safely and responsibly at every stage. We set out requirements for how companies must handle, store, treat, and dispose of their oilfield waste in order to ensure that the public and the environment are protected.
What is oilfield waste?
Oilfield waste is any unwanted substance(s), or a mixture of substances, that is generated at any stage of a facility, well site, or pipeline's life cycle, from construction to reclamation.
Examples of oilfield waste include:
- used filters,
- contaminated debris and soil,
- wash water,
- drilling mud and cuttings,
- hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid,
- contaminated hydrovac material, and
- sediment from storage tanks.
How Companies Must Manage Waste
Companies must follow our requirements to handle, treat, and dispose their oilfield waste safely and responsibly. Many of our requirements are set out in Directive 050: Drilling Waste Management and Directive 058: Oilfield Waste Management Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry.
We encourage companies to find ways to reduce their oilfield waste through various reducing, reusing, and recycling initiatives. If a company suggests an alternative method to manage its oilfield waste—one that is not listed in our requirements—our technical experts will thoroughly review the suggested method to ensure that it upholds the same level of environmental protection as our requirements.
Managing Spills and Leaks
When companies use or produce substances at an energy site, there's always a chance that those substances could spill or leak. That's a problem, especially if the substances end up in soil, surface water, or groundwater. If a spill or leak occurs, companies must manage and clean up the contamination—a process known as "remediation" —as soon as possible.Learn more about remediation and how we expect companies to clean up spills and leaks.
Our Detailed Requirements
- Directive 030 Digital Data Submission of the Annual Oilfield Waste Disposition Report
- Directive 047 Waste Reporting Requirements for Oilfield Waste Management Facilities
- Directive 050 Drilling Waste Management
- Directive 055 Storage Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry
- Directive 058 Oilfield Waste Management Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry
- Directive 075 Oilfield Waste Liability (OWL) Program
- Drilling Waste Notification Requirements
- Manual 002 Drilling Waste Inspections
Compliance and Enforcement
We conduct regular inspections and audits to make sure that companies are following these requirements. If we find that a company isn't complying, we'll take the appropriate compliance and enforcement actions and share our findings on the Compliance Dashboard.
We list approved oilfield waste management facilities in our statistical report ST107: AER Approved Oilfield Waste Management Facilities.