A directive has been developed to established requirements for conducting site specific liability assessments (SSLA) to improve the consistency and accuracy of liability cost estimates submitted to the Ministry. The Directive PNG031: Site Specific Liability Assessment applies to spills and incidents resulting from wells, facilities and flowlines as defined in The Oil and Gas Conservation Regulations, 2012.
With regard to well and facility sites, the objectives of an SSLA are to estimate the cost to remediate an unassessed problem site (UPS) and to track liabilities under the Licensee Liability Rating (LLR) Program for protection of the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Orphan Fund. Under The Oil and Gas Conservation Regulations, 2012, reclamation liabilities with respect to flowline spills are associated with the well or facility licence that the flowline is connected to.
SSLA reports are based on Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) results. The ministry has developed acceptable principles and practices for conducting Phase II ESAs as outlined in Directive PNG033: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. However, any sites that were undergoing assessment/remediation prior to May 10, 2019, are considered grandfathered and may continue to be assessed under:
Potential problem sites (PPS) are identified through self-disclosure by the licensee or through an on-site inspection conducted by ministry personnel. Inspections may be conducted in the course of normal field activities or at the request of the land owner.
The ministry will notify a licensee of any site identified as a PPS and provide an opportunity to respond to the identification prior to formally classifying the site as an unassessed problem site (UPS). If a licensee cannot establish that the PPS identification was deemed in error, the ministry will notify the licensee in writing that an SSLA is required within a specified timeframe. Typically, a site is classified as UPS if evidence indicates:
- insufficient recovery of spilled or released oilfield waste;
- off lease pad damage to soil, vegetation, or a water body;
- a high probability of groundwater contaminant transport or migration; and
- surface reclamation issues, such as an extensive cut and fill.
When the ministry designates a UPS, the reclamation liability associated with the well or facility licence, under the LLR Program, is multiplied by four or greater depending on the severity of the issue identified. If a UPS is transferred, the reclamation liability associated with the licence is doubled post-transfer to account for the uncertainty and risk involved in transferring a well/facility licence in the absence of an SSLA to quantify the liability. The higher liability amount will stay in effect until an SSLA is submitted and accepted by the ministry.
If the estimated cost and recommendations of the SSLA are acceptable to the ministry, the site will be reclassified as an assessed problem site (APS). The reclamation liability is typically set to the estimated cost of the consultant’s recommended option provided the option is based on remediation technologies accepted by the ministry. However, in some situations, the Ministry may set the reclamation liability at the estimated cost for the full or rooting zone excavation instead. The APS status will remain in effect until reclamation-related progress is made at the site, such as the full or partial removal and/or treatment of impacted media, or if the results of a Site Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA) indicate remediation is not warranted or is only partially necessary. For APS, both monthly and licence transfer LLR assessments are conducted using the "assessed" value as determined in the SSLA.
For ease of identifying problem sites in Saskatchewan, the "Deemed Problem Site" column, within the LLR Well List or LLR Facility List, denotes the applicable licences with a "U" for unassessed or an "A" for assessed.
SSLAs must be prepared by third party professionals. The third party professionals must be certified in their respective professions and familiar with applicable federal, provincial and municipal legislation and published guidelines and directives used to evaluate the presence of contamination on a property and to develop reclamation plans.
For the purposes of certifying the work and analysis carried out in the preparation of an SSLA, any of the following credentials are acceptable:
The extent of assessment and investigation required to adequately understand the conditions at a given site depends on the complexity of the situation. The overall intent is to gather enough information and lines of evidence to prepare an accurate cost estimate to remediate the site to applicable regulatory or site-specific criteria.
- licensed to engage in the practice of professional engineering/geoscience in Saskatchewan pursuant to The Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act;
- licensed to practice agrology in Saskatchewan pursuant to The Agrologists Act;
- licensed to practice as a biologist or chemist by profession's legislation of a Canadian province or territory;
- licensed to practice as a forester or forest technologist in Saskatchewan pursuant to The Forestry Professions Act;
- certified as an applied science technologist in Saskatchewan with 5 years of direct experience in site assessments pursuant to The Saskatchewan Applied Science Technologist and Technicians Act;
- designated by the minister.
How to Apply
To submit an SSLA for review, the licensee must:
- Ensure the eligibility criteria are met.
- Prepare the SSLA report according to the requests outlined in the UPS notification.
- Submit the SSLA report via email to the Liability Management Branch (LMB@gov.sk.ca) with subject line identifying the "Well or Facility Licence Number – Licensee Name – Site Specific Liability Assessment."
The Ministry will review the SSLA report for administrative, technical, financial and regulatory requirements as well as the suitability of the proposed remediation cost and schedule. Where the SSLA is:
- Accepted, the licensee will be notified via email and the site will be reclassified as an APS.
- Rejected, the licensee will be notified via email of incomplete, inaccurate, non-compliant, and/or inconsistent information within the SSLA report which requires corrections prior to resubmission.
Submit the SSLA report via email to LMB@gov.sk.ca.