Managing the lifecycle of oil and gas resources is a big job when you’re regulating the core of Canada’s energy sector, and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) realized it needed a digital transformation project to make it work.

Established in 2013 after the merger of Alberta’s Energy Resource Conservation Board and the Ministry of Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development, the organization serves Alberta’s energy industry in helping them meet environmental compliance standards – and enforcing those standards. Energy producers in Alberta are required to conserve and reclaim the land disturbed by their activities, attaining a reclamation certificate from the province when they’ve proved that they’ve fulfilled their obligation. Producers must salvage and store ground soil where possible and when finished harvesting energy from an area, restore plant life.

Soon after the merger of the bureaucracies, AER set to work on making its awarding of reclamation certificates more efficient. The process originally required manual data entry and multiple steps, with capture of the necessary information repeated often. A $1.6 million project to address the problem has led to $6 million of savings annually to AER’s upstream oil and gas clients, a 275 per cent return on investment. Beyond that, the project served as an IT governance model for the digital transformation at the rest of the organization. AER is nominated for IT World Canada’s Digital Transformation Awards, being held in Toronto June 14.

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Working with OpenText to aggregate weather data and climate information, environmental air quality information and precise geographic and location data helped the regular get a grip on the information it needed to deploy the right resources across the province. Solution provider Habernero played a key role in implementing the enterprise information management system and reworking AER’s website to double as a public information resource and a self-service portal for stakeholders.

AER created a defined reference architecture before embarking on the project, so it could be confident the right technology was selected for the whole organization. It adopted the open group architecture framework and developed a service-oriented architecture approach to guide those decisions. With that solid governance model in place, AER set down the path of a phased digital transformation. It’s now following a three-year plan that will many of its service delivery models transformed, from emergency response, to approving pipelines, to field surveillance, to the management of aging infrastructure and land.

Not only has AER already realized cost savings from its efforts, but the public organization has engaged a wide array of stakeholders around its regulatory approvals process, from the Farmers Advocate to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Asociation, and received full support for its IT objectives.

“It has dramatically reshaped the culture of the AER by improving the relationship between IT and operations,” the nomination for AER states. “The AER will leverage technology to fully automate the low-risk approvals allowing redeployment of scarce resources to field and audit activities. This means providing the public with transparency on decisions, improving credibility.”

 

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