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Registration Of Abandoned Wells

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Resolution Category: 
Provincial Scope 6
Subject: 
Year: 
2010
Status: 
Adopted - Expired
Sponsor(s): 
Calmar, Town of
Active Clauses: 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association urge the Government of Alberta to enact legislation that would require the registration of a notification on the legal title of any parcel of land upon which an abandoned oil or gas well is present or which is otherwise within fifteen (15) meters of the location of an abandoned oil or gas well, advising as to the presence of the abandoned well.

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT such notification will remain registered on the subject legal titles in perpetuity.

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT all abandoned oil or gas well sites be registered with Alberta 1Call.

Whereas Clauses: 

WHEREAS there are currently in excess of 13,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Province of Alberta and possibly as many as 100,000 inactive wells;

WHEREAS once wells have been abandoned, the lands reclaimed and the leases associated with the wells are removed from legal title, no physical or registered evidence of the presence of the abandoned well remains;

WHEREAS the Energy Resources Conservation Board’s polices recommends the maintenance of setbacks consisting of a ten (10) meter by fifteen (15) meter working area around an abandoned well; and

WHEREAS the presence of an unknown abandoned oil or gas well means corresponding risks: firstly, that there will be a physical interaction between the well and machinery and equipment working on the lands; secondly, that purchasers, developers, or local authorities may make decisions inconsistent with the setbacks recommended by the Energy Resources Conservation Board; and thirdly, that incompatible development will occur in proximity to the abandoned well site.

Government Response: 

Jun 29, 2011 - Alberta Municipal Affairs

Abandoned well site information resides within Alberta Energy and is administered by the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB). With respect to the Land Titles Office (LTO), it is important to note that it is not intended to be a general repository of information about land. The LTO mandate includes the responsibility to guarantee accuracy (and, as a result, enforceability) of title information in the land titles database. LTO staff carefully examines all documents submitted for registration to ensure that documents are legally enforceable. Upon registration, a proprietary interest in the land is created. Since registration of abandoned well information would not confer title or proprietary interest, this would fall outside the mandate of the LTO.

The LTO is required by the land Titles Act to self-insure by maintaining an assurance fund levy. This levy provides confidence to the public that land titles information is accurate and reliable. Where information is not proprietary in nature, but relates to use for condition of the land, the LTO loses the ability to stand behind the accuracy of land titles data and exposes itself to potential liability.

While it may be possible to register abandoned well sites by way of a caveat on title, LTO staff would not have the ability to verify the accuracy of this information. Moreover, having such notices appear on file could have a significant impact on property values, which would affect land owners or individuals with mortgages. If the LTO accepted an abandoned well caveat and the information proved to be inaccurate, this would almost certainly lead to claims against the LTO.

May 10, 2013 - Energy 

The government is also making progress on concerns around abandoned wells in urban areas, including changes to the Subdivision and Development Regulation that require developers to check for abandoned wells at the permit approval stage. Public access to abandoned well locations is available through ERCB’s Abandoned Well Viewer, but will not be included on land titles.

AUMA Notes: 

AUMA considers this response. 

AUMA Comments: 
Considers government response