The Ministry of Energy and Resources held consultations on proposed amendments to The Surface Rights Acquisition and Compensation Regulations (SRACR) from February 24 to March 24, 2023. Changes to these regulations are necessary to support amendments to The Surface Rights Acquisition and Compensation Act (SRACA) and The Oil and Gas Conservation Act (OGCA) contained in Bill No. 95, further details about which may be found in the Saskatchewan Legislature’s document detailing the Progress of Bills.
Summary of Proposed Changes
Bill No. 95 features new authority for the Surface Rights Board of Arbitration (Board) to hear cases and to issue compliance orders on operators for the payment of delinquent surface rights compensation owed to landowners. It also creates an obligation in the OGCA for the holder of a licence issued under the OGCA to comply with the Board’s “Order for Payment” and for licensees to provide to the ministry proof of compliance with such an order in the “prescribed manner.” As well, to modernize the SRACA, Bill No. 95—among other things—authorizes the maximum amount for Board awards for off-lease damages to be moved out of the SRACA and into regulations.
Specifically, the main proposed regulation changes include:
- A requirement for an operator to prove compliance with the Board’s Order for Payment by demonstrating that payment has been made by the operator and accepted by the landowner;
- Increasing the maximum amount for off-lease damage awards by the Board from the current $1,000 to $30,000; and
- Adding helium and lithium to the listing of minerals for which the Board may adjudicate surface access besides oil, gas and potash.
Given the age of the SRACR and the nature of the changes proposed, the ministry intends to repeal and replace the existing regulation with a new regulation.
Review of Draft Regulations
Further details on these proposals may be found in the Notice of Proposed Regulatory Amendments.