Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board Releases draft Hydraulic Fracturing Directive

On Thursday, December 6, 2012 Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) released for public comment a draft Hydraulic Fracturing Directive.

The ERCB is Alberta's primary energy regulator and establishes the rules under which oil and gas development can take place.

The ERCB already has in place numerous directives that apply to hydraulic fracturing. However, given the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing technologies with horizontal drilling, the ERCB is proposing additional rules on subsurface activity during hydraulic fracturing operations.

The draft Hydraulic Fracturing Directive is proposing:
  • new requirements to prevent the loss of well integrity during hydraulic fracturing operations; 
  • new requirements for a well licensee to assess, plan for, and mitigate the risks of interwellbore communication with offset wells; 
  • new requirements to protect freshwater aquifers from hydraulic fracturing operations at depths less than 100 metres (m) below the base of groundwater protection; 
  • increased vertical setback distances for hydraulic fracturing operations near water wells; 
  • increased vertical setback distances for hydraulic fracturing operations near the top of the bedrock surface; 
  • pumping volume restrictions and exemptions to setback distances for nitrogen fracturing operations for coalbed methane wells; and 
  • new notification requirements to ensure that well licensees notify the ERCB prior to commencing hydraulic fracturing operations and in the event that hydraulic fracturing operations cause an unintended communication event with an offset well or a nonsaline aquifer. 
The ERCB is accepting public comments until January 18, 2013. 

This article was prepared by Alan Harvie ( or +1 403.267.9411) from Norton Rose - Canada's Energy Practice.