Well Drilling Licence
How to apply to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources to drill a well in the province.
A well licence must be obtained from the Ministry of Energy and Resources before drilling, operating, producing/injecting or exploring an upstream oil and gas well, or a potash well, in Saskatchewan. A well licence is also required to:
- Re-enter an abandoned well;
- Deepen an existing vertical well; or
- Change the trajectory of a well.
Well licence applications are approved by the ministry; however, they may be subject to review by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture. All applications and supporting documentation required for all three ministries are submitted through the Integrated Resource Information System (IRIS).
Requirements from the Ministry of Energy and Resources
Read the following Directives, Guidelines and Information Circular for regulatory requirements related to drilling and operating a well in Saskatchewan, and for information to assist you in applying for a well licence:
- Directive PNG003: Well Survey Requirements
- Directive PNG004: Surface Lease Construction Requirements
- Directive PNG005: Casing and Cementing Requirements
- Directive PNG006: Horizontal Oil Well Requirements
- Directive PNG007: Off-Target Well Requirements
- Directive PNG008: Disposal and Injection Requirements
- Directive PNG009: Public Notice Requirements
- Directive PNG010: Well Logging Requirements
- Guideline PNG021: Determining Drainage Units and Target Areas
- Guideline PNG022: Lahee Classification
- Guideline PNG039: Minimum Standards for Flare Tanks during Drilling and Servicing Operations
- Guideline PNG049: Potash Well Requirements
- Information Circular: Coal Mine Area Instruction
- The Subsurface Mineral Conservation Regulations
- Pool Orders
- Saskatchewan's Mining and Petroleum GeoAtlas, which includes oil and gas wells, pool boundaries and Crown Reserves (CR) Precluding Oil and Gas Dispositions.
Requirements from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture
The following documents may also be required with your well licence application:
- Checklist for Private Lands (Mandatory)
- Oil and Gas Proposal
- Conservation Data Center Search
- Pre-Disturbance Site Assessment
- Wet Land Management Plan
- Native Vegetation Management Plan
- Species of Concern Management Plan
Routine and Non-routine Well Licence Applications
Well licence applications are processed either as routine or non-routine in IRIS:
- Routine: The applicant self-declares they meet all the necessary requirements and setbacks. Routine licences are issued immediately upon submission.
- Non Routine: Based on the declarations made by the applicant, IRIS identifies that the licence application requires additional review before a well licence can be issued.
Before submitting an application for a well licence, applicants must:
- Have an Integrated Resource Information System (IRIS) account and the appropriate permissions assigned by your Security Administrator to submit a well licence application.
- Be registered with Information Services Corporation (ISC) as a corporation to do business in Saskatchewan.
- Obtain the appropriate subsurface mineral rights.
- Obtain surface lease and surface access from the surface owner of the chosen site.
- If it's Freehold land, surface rights must be obtained from the landowner.
- If it's Crown land, surface leases are listed in IRIS.
- Contact the Rural Municipality to determine if a development permit is required.
- Obtain a Heritage Resource Review through the Government of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport (Heritage Branch).
- Re-Entry Licence Requirements
- If you are applying to re-enter an abandoned well, to deepen an existing vertical well, or to change the trajectory type (from horizontal to vertical or vertical to horizontal) you must complete a well licence application in IRIS, but are also required to provide a licence number for the original well.
- If the re-entry process requires the abandonment of a completion or the abandonment of a wellbore, the applicant is required to have all non-routine abandonment authorizations in place before applying for the re-entry well.
NOTE: Licensees that solely hold well/facility licences for purposes other than oil and gas production (such as potash mining, storage facilities, waste facilities, helium, lithium, etc.) may be eligible for an exemption from the Security Deposit requirements under the LLR Program and/or annual Orphan Fund Levy.
If a licensee is acquiring licences for the first time and would like to be considered for the exemption, please contact the ER.Servicedesk@gov.sk.ca with subject “Attn: Liability Regulations – non oil and gas producer” and provide supporting evidence for the ministry to review.
3. How To Apply
To apply for a well licence:
- Ensure you meet all eligibility requirements.
- Log in to IRIS and complete the well licence application process.
5. Further Information
For more information on licensed wells in the province, see:
- The Daily Well Bulletin provides information on new well licences issued or when an existing licence is amended.
- The Daily Drilling Activity Report provides information on when a well is drilled.
- The Licensee Liability Rating (LLR) Well List provides information on the wells that are part of the LLR Program along with their reclamation application status.
Licence Obligations Associated with a Well
- Obligations are created and available in the licence document (pdf) provided in IRIS at the time of issuance. The conditions outlined in this licence document are established based on disclosure questions and will not be updated after the initial licence is created.
- Additional obligations may be created within IRIS that the licensee is responsible for meeting.
- Obligations are maintained within IRIS and can be modified from what is listed on the initial licence.
- Licensees are encouraged to review IRIS regularly for any new or modified obligations.
Cancelling a Licence
- A well licence can be cancelled by the licensee at any time before drilling begins.
- Licences are automatically cancelled if no drilling information is submitted to the Ministry of Energy and Resources through IRIS within 1 year of the licence issue date.
Unknown/Undetermined Mineral Ownership in a drainage unit/area related to production wells
In a situation where mineral ownership cannot be determined for a small portion of the drainage unit/area and a company still wishes to apply for a licence they may do so.
Two requirements prior to licence submission are:
- Conduct a thorough search and document all efforts made to determine/locate mineral owners.
- Conduct a public notice for the drainage unit/area to provide to off-set parties and any parties that may have an interest based on investigation results.
- Assign the DA/DU as usual, include the unknown minerals lands, NOTE – on horizontal wells, only set up production allocation if CR/Other lands are involved, the setback from equity boundaries question should be answered as if the lease to the unknown mineral lands is held.
- Answer no to Question D62.
- Attach Unknown Mineral Ownership/Trust Information attachment to the well licence application, this should include confirmation of Public Notice being conducted, provide the PN number, the documentation of what was done to attempt to find the mineral owner(s) and a confirmation that a trust will be established and detail the percentage allocated to the portion of the drainage area that is unknown mineral ownership.
Crossing a Unit Boundary
A horizontal production well can be proposed to licence with the productive interval crossing a unit boundary. On the licence application within the completion detail, indicate the well is crossing a unit boundary. Production allocation must be specified as per Directive PNG006. Declaration must be made that the proposed well is not meeting equity setbacks and that agreements are in place between unit/non-unit/other unit parties. An attachment must be provided that shows the impacted units and other parties that make up the drainage area of the well and confirms agreements are in place with said parties to allow for production allocation in accordance with Directive PNG006.
Acquiring Crown Mineral Leases
Petroleum and natural gas dispositions in Saskatchewan are acquired through Crown Public Offerings. Companies request land to be posted in the Public Offering and bid on parcels within the Integrated Resource Information System (IRIS).
There are a number of scenarios where an oil and gas disposition may be eligible to be transferred. In these scenarios, acquisition through the Public Offering would not be required. These include:
- if the transferor(s) and the transferee(s) have agreed to and signed (executed) the transfer; or
- if a transfer is executed by or on behalf of a trustee, receiver, receiver-manager, liquidator, executor, administrator, property guardian or other person acting in a similar capacity and is accompanied by required documentation as set out in the Crown Minerals Act; or
- if the transfer is a redistribution of the interest among the remaining holders.
For more information on mineral lease transfers visit Transfer a Crown Oil and Gas Disposition Application.