Oil & Gas

As the agency responsible for public land management, the Special Areas Board issues and administers surface dispositions to Oil & Gas companies on public land for the purpose of the development of natural resources.

Key Contacts

Lisa Bietelspacher, Lease Supervisor
(403)854-5616 Office
lisa.bietelspacher@specialareas.ab.ca

 

Nolan Ball - Rangeland Agrologist
(403)854-5647 Office
(403)854-1375 Cell
nolan.ball@specialareas.ab.ca

MSL's & PLA'sSearchesEnvironmental ReviewReclamationRestricted Development AreasOil & Gas FormsOil & Gas Related Policies

If a company holds an interest in the minerals, they may apply to the Special Areas Board for a Mineral Surface Lease (MSL).  In order to issue a MSL, the company must provide:

Paper Submission
1.       (1) COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM
2.       APPLICABLE FEES (SEE FEE SCHEDULE)
3.       (2) SIGNED AND SEAL CONSENT OF OCCUPANT ACCOMPAINED BY INITIALED COLOR SURVEY PLANS
4.       THIRD PARTY APPROVALS, IF REQUIRED.

Digital Submission to be made to FTP Site
https://app.munisight.com/SpecialAreasBoard/
1.       A COLOR PDF OR TIFF OF THE SURVEY PLANS
2.       DWG VERSION OF THE SURVEY PLANS (MUST BE REQUESTED FROM SURVEYORS)
3.       ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

Companies may also apply to the Special Areas Board for a Pipeline Agreement (PLA) which grants an easement to the company for a pipeline right-of-way.  In order to issue a PLA, the company must provide:

Paper Submission
1.       (1) COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM
2.       APPLICABLE FEES (SEE FEE SCHEDULE)
3.       (3) SIGNED AND SEAL CONSENT OF OCCUPANT ACCOMPAINED BY INITIALED COLOR SURVEY PLANS
4.       THIRD PARTY APPROVALS, IF REQUIRED.

Digital Submission to be made to FTP Site
https://app.munisight.com/SpecialAreasBoard/
1.       A COLOR PDF OR TIFF OF THE INDIVIDUAL OWNERSHIP PLANS
2.       ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

Once the applications for a MSL or PLA have been received, the Lease Supervisor reviews and processes these. They are then forwarded on to the Rangeland Argologist for field inspection and approval. Upon approval the Letter of Authority is drafted and sent to the company.

Requests can be forwarded to sasearches@specialareas.ab.ca there will be a $3.00 + GST charge for each parcel. Special Areas also offers a web title search account that can be set up. The client can then do their own searches and be billed automatically. For more information please contact the Hanna District Office at 403-854-5625.

The Environmental Review Program, in place since 2010, was designed to better manage surface disturbances and protect significant environmental features during the planning, construction, operations, and reclamation of industrial projects. This program was reviewed in late 2019/early 2020 to ensure it aligns pre-application disposition requirements of the Environmental Review with regulatory compliance set out across multi-jurisdictional areas like wildlife, species-at-risk, wetlands and waterbodies.

Environmental Review - 2010 to 2020

On January 1, 2010 the Special Areas Board implemented the Environmental Review Program. The Environmental Review consisted of a site specific assessment and related information searches to compile a comprehensive overview of the environmental conditions at proposed development locations. The assessment evaluated land use, landscape, soil, vegetation, fish and wildlife, species at risk, wetlands and waterbodies, and cultural and historical resources. A project description and conservation and reclamation plan was required in the Environmental Review.

The Environmental Review is valuable to both the operator and the Special Areas Board. The operator can better plan their development and prepare for appropriate reclamation. The Special Areas Board will be able to further manage and protect significant resources that require protection or mitigation prior to development. In turn, the residents of Special Areas can feel confident that the landscape is being well managed now and for future generations.

The Special Areas Board has always emphasized preservation of native range while maintaining industrial and commercial development. This grassland is an important resource with intrinsic value, used for agriculture, industrial, commercial and recreational purposes. This land also provides habitat to many wildlife and plant species some of which are classified as species at risk.

Environmental Review - January 2021

Effective January 2021, the updated Environmental Review Form will be required for all applications for new surface dispositions located on public lands in the Special Areas. For more information on this update, you can view the updated fact sheet.

As the public land manager for the Special Areas, the Special Areas Board has always emphasized preservation of native range while maintaining industrial and commercial development. This grassland is an important resource with intrinsic value, used for agriculture, industrial, commercial and recreational purposes. This land also provides habitat to many wildlife and plant species, many of which are classified as Species at Risk. The updated Environmental Review Form, and the accompanying guide, will be implemented on January 1, 2021. Applicants are encouraged to collect field data in alignment with the updated Environmental Review Form to support an accurate application for the project after the implementation date.

Requirements
An Environmental Review will be required with applications for new surface dispositions on public lands located within the Special Areas. The project proponent must demonstrate a reasonable understanding of the project and the environment into which it is to be placed. This will include potential impacts associated with the project, and mitigation measures that will be taken to address those impacts. As well, the Environmental Review will provide an assessment that evaluates the following components:

  • land use
  • landscape
  • soil
  • vegetation
  • fish and wildlife
  • species at risk
  • wetlands and waterbodies
  • cultural and historical resources
  • First Nations consultation

For more information on the Environmental Review Program, or other reclamation or range management issues, contact the Property Administration Department at (403) 854-5619, or email Nolan Ball, Rangeland Agrologist.

As the agency representing the landowner interest on public lands, the Special Areas Board is concerned with maintaining the integrity of native prairie landscapes.  Within the Special Areas, industrial oil & gas activity (most recently the development of petroleum & electricity transmission lines) has been steadily increasing on native prairie landscapes.  The Special Areas Board recognizes the shift in focus from reclamation to restoration of native prairie ecosystems acknowledged in the 2010 Reclamation Criteria for Wellsites and Associated Facilities in Native Grasslands (Alberta Environment, 2011).

The use of development planning and pre-disturbance assessment is important in successful restoration of the native prairie ecosytems to their pre-disturbance ecological conditions.  Tools such as the Recovery Strategies for Industrial Development in Native Prairie (AESRD, 2013),  Range Plant Community Guides & Range Health Assessment Guidelines (Adams et al) and Grassland Vegetation Inventory (GVI) are useful in determining the ability of native plant communities.  Links to several of these resources are provided below.

The Special Areas land base covers parts of four natural subregions as identified in the map below.  Reclamation practitioners must understand the restoration opportunities and limitations pertaining to the uniqueness of each subregion.

PDF Policy 06-05 - Minimum Disturbance on Native Range

PDF Policy 06-06  - Invasive Introduced Forages on Reclamation Sites

Rates in Effect - Reclamation - Natural Subregions within the Special Areas

Oil & Gas Related Policies
Policy 06-01 - Pipeline Road Crossing
Policy 06-02 - Access for Seismic Drill Lines & Well Site Development Near Water Bodies within the Special Areas
Policy 06-03 - Access Historical or Cultural Sites
Policy 06-04 - Guideline for License of Occupation & Shoreline Modification Approval
Policy 06-05 - Minimum Disturbance on Native Range
Policy 06-06 - Invasive Introduced Forages on Reclamation Sites
Policy 06-07 - Utility Line Easement Compensation to Landowner
Policy 07-12 - Parking of Water Trucks on Special Areas Roads