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Alberta - June 27, 2018

Editor’s note: This story was first published January 22, 2017, and has been updated to reflect the 80th anniversary of energy regulation in Alberta.

This week, Alberta’s energy regulator blows out 80 candles and reflects on decades of achievements.

A lot can change in 80 years; the complex job of regulating energy development in Alberta is no exception. Since being created in 1938, the regulator has dramatically evolved in response to changes in government legislation, shifts in priorities, and increases in responsibility.

The regulator’s first and only task was to promote resource conservation; in other words, put an end to wasteful gas flares that lit up Alberta skies. Today, the regulator’s responsibilities go far beyond by overseeing every stage of energy development. More so, the Alberta Energy Regulator’s mandate includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.

Needless to say, as Alberta’s energy industry has grown, so too has its watchdog. In honour of this week’s meaningful occasion, let’s look back at how the provincial regulator has grown since its first year:

The Year

Then: 1938

Now: 2018

The name Petroleum and Natural Gas Conservation Board (PNGCB) Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)
Number of employees 12 1186
Areas of expertise 1 chairman, 4 engineer-inspectors, 2 stenographers, and 1 accountant-statistician, plus 4 others. too many to count—inspectors, technical staff, scientists, investigators, stakeholder engagement specialists, mediators, lawyers, regulatory experts, and on and on.
Number of field staff 4 72 field inspectors in addition to dozens of other field support staff.
Head office Alberta Government Telephones Building, Calgary.  Centennial Place, Calgary, with regional offices in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, and Slave Lake.
Field centre locations 1 in the Black Diamond/Turner Valley area. 9, in Bonnyville, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, High Level, Medicine Hat, Midnapore, Red Deer, and Wainwright.
Number of operating wells regulated 294 over 167 000


Head Office
Head office, Calgary. In 1938, PNCGB staff occupied space on the third floor, on the right side and at the front. Credit: Alberta Government Telephones.


The PNGCB’s early fleet had a “police look and feel” for its small team of engineer-inspectors who patrolled the oilfields. Pictured above are three of the Board’s first inspectors outside the first field centre (left to right): Gorden Connell, Andy Lees, and Lloyd Publicover.


Today, the AER’s fleet boasts a number of speciality vehicles and trailers, all designed to act as an “office on wheels” for staff in the field. Pictured above are the regulator’s air monitoring unit and mobile incident command trailer. 

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