Resolution 5-19: Multi-Stakeholder Committee to Work at Reducing the Use of Fresh Water by the Oil and Gas Industry in Alberta

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST that the Provincial Agricultural Service Board Committee request the Government of Alberta to immediately strike a multi-stakeholder committee to work at reducing the use of fresh water by the oil and gas industry in Alberta.

Response:

AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY

AEP, Alberta Energy, and the Alberta Energy Regulator are leading the efforts to minimize the use of fresh water in oil and gas extraction activities. As this resolution has been forwarded to AEP, as well, AF will defer to that department for response.

ENVIRONMENT AND PARKS

Water use, including where, when and how much water can be withdrawn, is regulated under the Water Act. Diversion licences are granted to applicants when sufficient water is available to meet both ecosystem requirements and the rights of existing licence holders. The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is responsible for issuing water licences on behalf of the government for energy development activities.

The 2006 Water Conservation and Allocation Policy for Oilfield Injection requires operators to assess alternatives to freshwater prior to applying for a water licence for enhanced oil recovery (water floods) and in-situ operations. This policy made significant improvements to water productivity.

In February 2018, Environment and Parks issued the Directive for Water Licensing of Hydraulic Fracturing Projects – Area of Use Approach (the directive). The directive provides direction to the AER to ensure a consistent approach to water licensing of hydraulic fracturing projects with multi-year operations. The directive requires operators to demonstrate their need for water and to conduct an assessment of alternatives to fresh water. You can find the directive by visiting https://open.alberta.ca/publications and searching for “directive for water licensing of hydraulic fracturing.”

Because these issues are wide-ranging and complex, I welcome the opportunity to meet with you, along with some of my staff, to discuss these important topics.

ENERGY

The resolution falls under the jurisdiction of Environment and Parks. I believe they will be reaching out to you shortly.

UPDATE AUGUST 10, 2021 – Received by the ASBPC from AEP staff

In support of your request, the key points on water which I believe were raised is that with awareness of a couple pieces we feel this item could be graded as complete.

Resolution 5-19

AEP released the revised Water Conservation Policy for Upstream Oil and Gas in December, 2020 which – amongst other things – extends water conservation requirements to hydraulic fracturing and oil sands mining operations. This policy was derived with input from multi-stakeholder group engagements in 2014 and 2016-17, which included representatives from the agricultural sector.

The AER tracks water use performance by the oil and gas industry and data shows:

o   Freshwater use for enhanced oil recovery has declined 61 percent since the early 70s, from approx.. 85 million cubic metres to just over 30 million cubic metres in 2019.

o   The volume of fresh water used to produce a barrel of oil across the energy industry decreased by 40 percent between 2005 and 2015, and an additional three percent decreased has occurred since 2015.