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Project Application

Our Integrated Decision Approach is changing the way we regulate—the way we receive and review applications, the way we make decisions, and the way we communicate with our stakeholders—by looking at the entire life cycle of an energy project. But we didn’t get there overnight. Rather, we tested two different approaches to regulation: play-based regulation (PBR) and area-based regulation (ABR).

Together, these regulatory approaches have helped us adopt a “big picture” perspective based on more stakeholder involvement and feedback. Understanding the broader impacts of energy development has helped us find more meaningful solutions to community-based issues related to development.

Continue reading to learn more about PBR, ABR, and our pilot projects.


Play-Based Regulation

PBR helped us learn how multiple development activities could affect specific areas and stakeholders, and understand the cumulative effects of those activities over time. PBR was based on work completed in 2012 by our predecessor, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB).

The ERCB’s Regulating Unconventional Oil and Gas in Alberta: A Discussion Paper outlined a vision of the future state of resource regulation in Alberta that considers

  • the cumulative effects of development,
  • water and waste management,
  • air quality, and
  • public safety.

Pilot Project and Our Findings
In 2014, we tested PBR in the Fox Creek area. We looked at how resources would be developed and then how that development impacted the land and the community. Our findings are shared in Evaluation of the Alberta Energy Regulator’s Play-Based Regulation Pilot.

We continue to share PBR applications we received during the pilot project and our decisions on our Play-Based Regulation Decisions page.

Area-Based Regulation

In early 2016, we replaced PBR with ABR. This approach considers the environmental, energy resource, and community conditions in a development area. The ABR approach involves people who live, work, and play in the area to help create “area-based” regulatory requirements for industry.

Pilot Project and Our Findings
In 2016, we tested ABR in the Municipal District of Greenview in northwestern Alberta. This is an area of Alberta where a lot of energy development has occurred and is expected to continue, and where stakeholders in the area have expressed concern about water use by industry.

A multistakeholder panel, which included representatives from industry, local and provincial governments, landowners, and environmental organizations, was set up to help us improve industry’s use of water in the area.

The panel provided us with 23 recommendations that focus on enhancing water reuse, and promoting collaborative water use planning in the area. These recommendations are shared in Enabling the Use of Alternatives to High-quality Non-saline Water by the Oil and Gas Sector in the MD of Greenview. We also share a summary of what we learned from the pilot project in Area-Based Regulation Pilot Lessons Learned.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions (June 2018)

Resource story: Big Picture Planning (August 2016)