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Regulatory process for oil sands projects

Before we can construct a new oil sands project in Alberta, we must apply to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) for approval. In Alberta we have a rigorous and transparent regulatory system with strong compliance requirements. Obtaining approval for an oil sands project is a comprehensive process due to the level of scrutiny that goes into the application – the environmental implications of the project, along with its benefits, must be considered.

We put a lot of care and attention into understanding the environment in an area before we begin a project. When we apply to develop a new project, we must submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The EIA process allows government decision makers and our project design teams to examine the proposed project to determine what the environmental, social, economic and health implications may be so that impacts can be avoided, reduced or mitigated.

During an EIA, we consult with the community and key stakeholders who may be affected so that they can provide input and express any concerns. We also monitor environmental conditions, collect information about vegetation and wildlife, and model potential environmental impacts over the life of the project. All of the information gathered in the EIA is then provided to the AER for review. The AER determines whether a project is in the public’s best interest. The AER, along with other government agencies and departments, have opportunities to ask us questions to clarify any aspects of the application and the EIA before determining whether the project should be approved.

Once a project is approved, we must meet strict rules and regulations during construction and operation, including continuing to monitor air, soil and water as well as any potential impacts on wildlife. The AER also continues to monitor the operation to ensure rules are being followed. The regulatory system in Alberta is open and transparent – any compliance violations and steps taken to address them are available for the public to review.