The AER established the new desorption control well requirements in 2006 to gather gas content data to help us understand Alberta’s gas resource in coals. A single desorption control well is tested and validated to meet the requirements for all coalbed methane (CBM) production within a five-kilometre radius.
CBM developers are encouraged to work together in selecting control wells in a CBM development area in order to make the control well designation process as effective and efficient as possible for all parties.
The following outlines the process to follow to get approval for CBM desorption control wells. It includes links to application submission procedures and guidance documents.
The applicant will submit their CBM desorption control well application through electronic applications submission (EAS). Applications are registered using Integrated Application Registry (IAR), and all material related to an application is stored within this system.
Review Process for Desorption Control Wells
After the application is submitted through DDS and received by the AER, the application process will take place as follows:
- All applications will be published on the Public Notice of Application (PNoA) page on the AER website to encourage public participation in the approval process.
- Statements of concern (SOCs) can be filed by parties that may be directly and adversely affected by the desorption control well for which approval is sought. These are evaluated for relevance to the application. If relevant, a SOC may necessitate a public hearing to address the stated concerns prior to the disposition of the application. The relevance of the SOC is decided by the AER director of subsurface authorizations. The application will be assigned to a processor and reviewed for administrative completeness. The processor will either recommend that an information-deficient application be closed, or it will proceed with a full technical review of the administratively complete application.
- The processor will check internally to determine whether the land referred to in the application is within the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan or South Saskatchewan Regional Plan areas. If the application land is in one of these areas, the application must go for leadership approval.
- Staff will review the geologic aspects of the proposed desorption control well application. Review includes
- scientific analysis of the desorption data, which must be done to ensure quality and quantity. The data collected is used to represent CBM zones within a defined area.
- The applicant may receive a request, called a supplemental information request, for additional information, if needed.
- A draft disposition letter will be prepared for technically complete applications once the review is complete and uncontested, and the processor will recommend that the application be approved, denied, or closed. The Geology signing authority will then review the technical recommendation and make a decision on the application. Upon disposition, the applicant will receive a link to the disposition letter. The letter can be accessed for 30 days through the IAR query tool. Go to www.aer.ca under Systems & Tools for access.
- Some appealable decisions on the application can be appealed by eligible persons based on the Responsible Energy Development Act (REDA). The filing requirements for a request for regulatory appeal, including form, content, and time limits, are set out in section 30 of the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice. The procedures for regulatory appeals are described in sections 30 through 33 of the Alberta Energy Regulator Rules of Practice.
- The list of valid control wells is published on the AER website. Go to www.aer.ca under Rules & Directives, Control Well Requirements.
The processing time for this application is 30 days, and the AER aims to meet this target 90 per cent of the time.