The Regulator, Then and Now

Almost eight decades later, energy regulation in Alberta has come a long way.

For many, the start of a new year encourages us to reminisce about the ones gone by.

But for the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), with nearly eight decades of history, this task is easier said than done.

Though a lifetime to some, to the AER, 79 years encompasses progress, discoveries, and countless changes that have shaped and influenced the way energy resource development is regulated in Alberta.

Needless to say, as Alberta’s oil and gas industry has grown, so too has its watchdog. Here’s a snapshot of how the provincial regulator has grown since its first year:

  Then: 1938 Now: 2017
The name Petroleum and Natural Gas Conservation Board (PNGCB) Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)
Number of employees 12 1200
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 inspectors 4 74
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 174 000


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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