Surface rights are governed by legislation in effect in Alberta, primarily the Surface Rights Act.
The Alberta Surface Rights Board, an administrative tribunal established under the Surface Rights Act, administers the Surface Rights Act on a day to day basis. This Board:
- grants rights of entry onto the surface of the land to the oil company if the landowner and oil company cannot agree on the terms of a surface lease or pipeline (or power transmission line) right of way. A right of entry order is registered on the Certificate of Title for the affected land;
- sets compensation paid to the landowner if the landowner and oil company cannot agree to as to compensation for the taking of surface land and rights from the landowner, and,
- arbitrates and resolves disputes between the oil company and landowner that might arise over the term of a surface lease or right of entry order.
The Alberta Energy Regulator (“AER” or the “Regulator). Established under the Responsible Energy Development Act, the Regulator took over the former mandates of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (“ERCB”) and some responsibilities associated with reclamation of sites formerly administered by Alberta Environment.
The licencing and approval functions of the Regulator are:
- Well and facilities licencing under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, and the Oil and Gas Convervation Rules which govern the operations of oil and gas operators.
- Pipeline licencing under the Pipeline Act and Pipeline Regulation.
- Issuance of reclamation certificates for land that has been affected by a surface lease or right of entry order issued by the Surface Rights Board under Part 6 of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (see Sections 137 and 138). A surface lease or right of entry order cannot be terminated until a reclamation certificate has been obtained for the affected land.