Wed, 21 Apr 2021

Supporting safe and responsible energy resource operations.

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“Not only does [OneStop] provide immediate benefits for the reclamation certificate process; it demonstrates that there is an exciting opportunity to deploy similar technology more broadly within the AER.”

– Mark Taylor, EVP of Operations

The Challenge

In March 2014, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) assumed responsibility for regulating reclamation and remediation activities for all energy resource operations in Alberta, Canada. These activities were previously the responsibility of the Alberta government ministry, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). 

When the AER took over responsibility for issuing reclamation certificates, the handover came with a backlog of 2,691 upstream oil & gas reclamation certificate applications. The reason for the large backlog was that the process for reviewing applications was extremely complex; substantial manual work and analysis was required, and each application had to be checked against seven different databases. 

The Solution

Using VertiGIS products, the AER developed a system called OneStop to streamline the application review process. OneStop ensures that all criteria for reclamation are thoroughly assessed in a timely manner, allowing AER staff to dedicate more resources to high-risk areas. 

With OneStop, the AER has altered how applications are processed. There are now two review levels: baseline (automated) and additional review (manual). The baseline review ensures that the application is complete and meets certain administrative criteria. Every application that enters AER’s system goes through the baseline review, and upon completion, OneStop determines if any additional manual reviews are required. 

OneStop also has a public-facing component that provides Albertans unprecedented access to the Province’s energy related maps. The application also allows Albertans to see asset information and reclamation decisions throughout the Province. 

The Result

Before OneStop was launched, there were applications that had been in the system for more than 18 months. With new applications being submitted every month, applications were piling up faster than the team could process them. As soon as OneStop was launched, most of the reclamation applications were processed instantly and the backlog was significantly reduced. 

Approximately 80% of the backlogged applications required only a baseline review, which OneStop completed automatically. Instead of manually reviewing all 2,691 applications, 2,156 were automatically reviewed and approved, with the remaining 545 sent through for further investigation. 

“The backlogged applications received the same attention when reviewed by the online system as they would have if done manually,” said Tara Mulrooney, Chief Technology Officer for the AER. “The only difference is that the backlog was reviewed in the blink of an eye, with a more consistent approach than if different employees had manually reviewed them all.” 

VertiGIS helped AER staff significantly reduce development time and integrate with existing enterprise systems in a simple and intuitive way. This has resulted in increased efficiency, transparency and consistency. For the energy industry, this process improvement represents cost savings and reduction of liability. For the people of Alberta, it provides increased visibility and environmental protection by reducing land disturbance and helping keep land in a productive state. 

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