Prior to the Responsible Energy Development Act (REDA), environmental
assessments and regulatory oversight responsibilities in Alberta’s upstream energy sector
(exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas) were carried out by multiple
government agencies. Regulatory compliance was undertaken by each organization with
limited co-ordination that increased regulatory duplication. This led to the need and
creation of a single regulator for upstream oil, gas, oil sands and coal development in
Alberta, namely the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The goal is to create a less
complex and more streamlined regulatory processes for project approvals and monitoring.
The advancements in technology such as the combination of multi-staged
hydraulic fracturing (MHF) and horizontal drilling have made Unconventional Gas
Development (UGD) possible in subsurface areas that were not economically viable or
possible in the past. The UGD involves larger footprints, intense developments and last
longer as compared to the conventional gas development. Risks such as potential
groundwater contamination, significant use of fresh water and cumulative effects to the
landscapes have been linked to UGD.