667 days on average according to CanOils’ new oil sands tracking feature. The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) is the provincial governing body in charge of regulatory approval for Alberta, where the vast majority of Canadian oil sands reserves lie. CanOils has sourced all regulatory applications in combination with their corresponding approvals, to establish an insight into the time it takes to receive regulatory approval for an oil sands project. All this, before even a dime is spent on constructing the project.
There are currently 55 projects in Alberta with regulatory approval that CanOils has tracked, which comprise a further 84 phases. The largest projects, also those with the greatest visible impact, are the mining projects. In a province which is very conscious of the visual impact of large open mine pits, it is no surprise that these take the longest to approve. The 7 mining projects and their 14 phases took an average of 717 days to pass through the regulatory system. In comparison the less resource intensive in-situ projects, those which utilise underground heat recovery methods to recover the bitumen, took the ERCB on average only 635 days to complete.
According to approval date, in-situ projects have seen an average increase in the process period from 619 days in 2005, to 1,021 days so far this year. While some of this increase can be accounted for by a tightening of the ERCB approval process, companies have also been up-scaling their projects over the period. Total capacity approved has grown from 104 mb/d in 2005 to 227 mb/d in 2010.
Upgrading projects also took a significant amount of time to pass through Alberta’s regulatory process. Surprisingly for a province which is concerned with holding onto the value created in upgrading its bitumen product, approval took on average 712 days for upgraders. Only 5 days less than the mining process and 77 more than in-situ.
Whatever the project though, with almost a 2 year average approval process, which involves many stages to surmount before approval is even considered, companies need to be well prepared before taking on Alberta’s tough regulatory process.
Oil sands clients can now view regulatory application number, submission date, approval date and number of days taken for approval by project in CanOils Oil Sands Product.