By Cole Parkinson
The Action Surface Rights board has been busy with a variety of different work over the past several months. With no Annual General Meeting due to COVID last year, this year the group was able to host one in March and members were updated on what the board has been up to.
“The directors and executive of this association are landowners just like you and we’re going up against large corporations, high priced lawyers, high-priced experts that generally have a better understanding of things than we do,” explained Daryl Bennett, a director with ASR.
One job the group has been helping with is close to home as an industry business was looking to buy some wells on a Taber landowner’s property.
“We have a case here in Taber where an operator wanted to buy a bunch of wells on own of our owner’s lands and it probably wasn’t a good idea. They notified the landowner, he filed a statement of concern, and it was blocked. But, you as a landowner are now supposed to get the AER website every week and take a look at it to see if there is an application to transfer your wells to somebody else because they won’t notify you. We’re going ‘well, where do you find this on the AER website?’It’s there, you then have to file a statement of concern, which is a form to block somebody from taking wells that are on your land,” said Bennett. “Your lease says they are supposed to notify you of assignment, but if the company is bankrupt it doesn’t make any difference. The AER is just transferring these to whoever and we’re worried they will transfer them to geothermal.”
“Because it is the AER and they are super-regulator, they’re allowed to do that. If you object or block them, there’s large penalties and fines in the act that can affect you,” added Bennett.
Bill 82, The Mineral Resource Development Act, was also brought forward to members. The bill received royal assent on Dec. 2, 2021, and the province states the bill “aligns the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) authority over minerals with its authority over other energy resources and helps enhance the fiscal and regulatory environment for metallic and industrial mineral development, supporting the second key area in Renewing Alberta’s Mineral Strategy.”
“A provision of this act or the regulations and rules made under this act, or any declaration or order by the regulator, which is the AER, made under this act overrides any term or condition of any contract or other arrangement that conflicts with the provision of this act or the regulation rules,” added Bennett. “No terms or conditions of a contract or other arrangement that conflicts with a provision to what AER says is enforceable or gives rise to any cause of action by any party against any other party. That is your surface lease agreement. Anything the AER wants to do, they can override any of the terms in your surface lease agreement and that is where we have some big concerns.”
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