Using Risk to Make Decisions


Using Risk to Make Decisions

The AER creates and enforces requirements that ensure that Alberta’s energy resources (oil, gas, bitumen, and coal) are developed responsibly. To do this, we must manage the risks associated with developing these resources; we need to know how likely it is that something bad might happen and what the consequences will be if it does. With the third-largest oil reserves in the world, this is not a simple task.  For more information on how we use risk information when making decisions, check out the risk brochure.

Under the Integrated Decision Approach, the AER has two levels of review: standard (baseline) and additional (manual).

When an application is submitted through OneStop, the system processes the applications.  First, the application undergoes the automated review process that determines if the application is complete and meets our requirements. All applications go through this process.

OneStop then determines if an additional review is required based on risk-assessment rules. For the most part, the standard review is sufficient for low-risk activities, but when an operator submits an activity that is not standard or that otherwise introduces uncertainty or higher risks, the AER technical experts will take a closer look.

There are five main reasons additional oversight may be necessary:

  • Legislation – Government of Alberta policy, legislation, or regulations may require the AER to apply additional oversight.
  • Variances – an operator is requesting a deviation from the AER’s standard rules and requirements.
  • New activity or technology – an operator is planning an innovative approach to energy development either in the way they plan to conduct the activity or in the use of new technology that has not previously been assessed by the AER.
  • Stakeholder concerns – statements of concern have been filed regarding the application or there is other stakeholder input relating to the application.
  • More oversight required – some attributes of the application (e.g., the location, operator, or activity proposed) have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of existing requirements.

The AER will periodically review the risk assessment rules to ensure they appropriately reflect Government of Alberta policy; information gathered from stakeholders and indigenous people; changes to energy development; and changes to the population and landscape of Alberta.

For more information on the assessment rules for

This is not an exhaustive list of what the AER reviews when looking at applications or making decisions on energy development. There are other administrative activities that also require a review by AER’s technical experts. Examples of such administrative activities include a licence holder name change, reminder notifications, and other related activities that need to be checked as part of the process. 

For a list of other reasons (i.e. administrative activities) why further review may be necessary for