Guide to Preparing an Environmental Review Form for Indian Oil and Gas Canada

Date: May 2014

Word Version of the Guide to Preparing an Environmental Review Form for Indian Oil and Gas Canada  (1,881 Kb, 43 Pages)

Table of contents


Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Alberta Energy Regulator
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Alberta Native Plant Council
Base of Groundwater Protection
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
Canadian Wildlife Service
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
Domestic Use Aquifers
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Environment Canada
Emergency Planning Zone
Environmental Review Form
Emergency Response Plan
Heritage Resource Impact Assessment
Information Letter
Indian Oil and Gas Act
Indian Oil and Gas Canada
Indian Oil and Gas Regulations
Low Impact Seismic
Legal Sub-division-location of a lease using the Dominion Land Survey standards
Migratory Bird Convention Act
Navigable Waters Protection Act
Parks Canada
Right of Way
Responsible Authority
Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage
Sodium Absorption Ratio
Species at Risk Act
Saskatchewan Energy and Resources
Transport Canada
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Valued Ecosystem Component

1.0 Background

Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC) is the federal regulatory agency responsible for the management and administration of oil and gas resources located on designated First Nation reserves across Canada. IOGC's authorities and responsibilities are enabled through the Indian Act, and the Indian Oil and Gas Act (IOGA) and Regulations, 1995. Amongst its responsibilities, IOGC is required to ensure that oil and gas development on-reserve proceeds in an environmentally responsible manner.

IOGC's mandate is two-fold:

1.1 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012)

On July 6, 2012, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (S.C. 1992, c. 37) was repealed and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA, 2012) came into force. Pursuant to section 124 of CEAA 2012, screening level environmental assessments for non-designated projects are no longer required. Oil and gas projects on-reserves are not designated and no longer require review through the CEAA process.

However, IOGC remains responsible, under Sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the new Act, for ensuring that oil and gas activity does not cause significant adverse effects. Specifically, IOGC must:

  1. Ensure that environmental effects of projects on First Nation reserves continue to be carefully considered; and
  2. Ensure that the measure of IOGC's review and the level of environmental requirements imposed on a project are commensurate with the potential risks a project presents.

1.2 Environmental Review Process

IOGC developed a new environmental review process to meet its renewed legislative responsibilities and authorities. The requirements of this process are presented in the publication: "Indian Oil and Gas Canada's Environmental Review Form".

These requirements apply to all applications for oil and gas exploratory licenses, surface leases, and pipeline right-of-way (RW) agreements on First Nation Reserve Land in Canada including:

  • Seismic exploration;
  • Surface leases for wells, batteries, compressors, borrow pits, remote sumps, access roads, pipeline riser sites, and other surface infrastructure;
  • Pipeline RWs where the pipeline originates on-reserve; and
  • Pipeline RWs in Alberta where the pipeline originates off-reserve.

Exceptions apply to the following:

  • For pipelines originating off-reserve in provinces other than Alberta, contact IOGC or the appropriate Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) regional office to determine jurisdiction.
  • Applications for RWs for transmission pipelines are the responsibility of the AANDC Region in the province of the proposed pipeline. A transmission pipeline in this context is a pipeline crossing First Nation land and carrying petroleum product(s) that is not produced from the First Nation reserve being traversed. In such instances, contact the applicable AANDC regional office for assistance.

1.2.1 Renewal of Indian Oil and Gas Act (2009)

The Federal Government is currently renewing the Indian Oil and Gas Act Regulations. Once drafting is complete, ongoing discussions with First Nations, Governments, Industries, and other parties will continue to finalize the regulations. The Act itself has received royal assent and will come into force when the regulations are complete. At that time, the Environmental Review Form (ERF) and this Guide will be updated.

1.3 Purpose and Scope of this Guide

This guide provides instructions, interpretations, and guidance to assist Applicants in completing and submitting an ERF.

This guide supersedes and renders null the IOGC publication: "How to Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Indian Oil and Gas Canada, Interim Guidelines, March 2011".

1.4 Updates

This Guide is a living document and will be updated. Project applicants are responsible for referencing the most current version in their work. The header section of the document will indicate the document's status in the following manner: "Last Update Month Year".

Should this Guide be updated during the planning or operation of an Applicant's project, the previous version of the document remains applicable for that project.

Contact IOGC if you have concerns, questions, or require clarification.

1.5 Limitations

This document outlines the requirements for the preparation of an ERF for proposed projects on First Nation reserve land. The regulations listed in the following text are considered current at the time of publication. Although every effort has been made to address and include all applicable regulations and guidelines, this document is not considered exhaustive. The applicant is responsible to address any additional aspects of the proposed project which may not be included herein.

2.0 Responsibilities

In the preparation and review of an Environmental Review Form (ERF) the following are responsibilities:

3.0 Principles for Oil and Gas Development on First Nation Reserve Lands

Indian reserve lands are unique designations within Canada. These reserves are held for the use and benefit of First Nations. The reserves held by Her Majesty for the respective First Nation membership are subject to the Indian Act, the Indian Oil and Gas Act, and all applicable federal and provincial legislation. They carry with them responsibilities not found elsewhere in the country, and require additional consideration by all parties involved in oil and gas development.

Indian Oil and Gas Canada subscribes to the following principles in its management of the environmental aspects of oil and gas development on First Nation reserve lands:

  1. The inclusion of First Nation's membership and Chief and Council in all phases of environmental planning and project life cycle;
  2. Fiduciary responsibility to the First Nation to support the responsible management of the resource potential of First Nation reserve lands;
  3. Science based and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) decision making;
  4. The use of setbacks and timing restrictions to protect environmental, cultural, and heritage features and processes;
  5. Adoption of best management practices, guidelines, procedures, as they are developed; and,
  6. An applicant's commitments and future actions as expressed in a submitted Environmental Review Form (ERF) are binding commitments.

3.1 Environmental Standards and Guidelines

Indian Oil and Gas Canada examined the environmental requirements of oil and gas development across Canada's different jurisdictions. Those requirements that support the above stated principles represent the benchmark for environmental management in Canada and form the basis of IOGC's environmental review process.

Proposed projects on First Nation reserves lands are subject to the requirements of all applicable federal and provincial laws, standards, and permits. For the purpose of remediation or other instances requiring a measure of Maximum Allowable Concentration, IOGC uses the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines and Standards. When there is no CCME Standard for a specific parameter, the provincial criteria where the project is located will be used.

If a qualified guideline is more stringent than CCME's, IOGC will consider its application. For example, the Alberta Tier I guideline for benzene is more conservative than the CCME's equivalent, and depending on the project, IOGC may require companies to meet the Alberta requirement.

4.0 Steps in the Environmental Review Process

Provided below is a brief description of the steps involved in the preparation, submittal, and review of an Environmental Review Form (ERF).

The preparation and submittal of an ERF is part of the application process to acquire a surface agreement to conduct oil and gas activities on First Nation reserve lands. The completed ERF is submitted along with the other components of the Surface Agreement Application package.

The approval process described below is restricted to environmental matters; other approvals are required before a surface agreement can be issued. Further and ultimately, the First Nation involved has final determination on all proposed works as expressed in the signing and execution of a Band Council Resolution agreeing to the proposed project.

4.1 Review Steps

  1. The applicant identifies a need for a project on First Nation reserve lands, and contacts the First Nation to begin preparing an application package.
  2. The applicant or their agent may contact IOGC's Environment Team at this stage, before conducting any environmental work. Each reserve has been assigned an environmental analyst. This decision is at the applicant's discretion, and can be guided by the information provided here and in Section 5.0, "Document Submittal and Review Categories".
  3. The applicant contacts the designated First Nation Oil and Gas Representative to organize site visit(s). Field work must be conducted in the growing season; May-September. See Section 7.5.2, "Field Investigation Season", for further details.
  4. The applicant submits the surface agreement application package that includes the ERF to IOGC. The IOGC environmental analyst for the applicable Reserve is alerted to the application and receives the ERF within 5 business days of its submittal.
  5. Upon receipt of the ERF the analyst reviews the material to make an initial determination. IOGC sets a Service standard of 20 business days to complete the review. Subject to the information provided in the ERF, one of the following determinations is made:
    1. The submitted ERF is standard and complete, and the project receives environmental approval. The application package is then returned to IOGC's Surface Administration who proceeds with its Step 1 approval as detailed in points 6-8 below.
    2. More information is required and the environmental analyst makes a request for further information to the applicant or the First Nation.
    3. The completed form is Non-Standard and may require discussion with the applicant.
    4. The submittal is remiss and is returned to the applicant for re-submission.
    5. The proposed project is significantly large or complex and may require examination through a more comprehensive process.
    Note that the majority of project proposals received by IOGC fall into the first three categories. See Section 5.0 for further details.
  6. After a project has been reviewed, the analyst prepares an Environmental Protection Terms Letter. This document enables the commitments expressed in the applicant's submission, and often includes additional environmental requirements. The Environmental Protection Terms Letter is a legal document and forms part of the surface agreement contract. Before the letter is signed, the environmental analyst contacts the First Nation Oil and Gas Representative to confirm there are no outstanding issues.
  7. The ERF and signed Environmental Protection Terms Letter are delivered to the Surface Administration Team for processing. Once processed, a Step 1 Approval is granted to the applicant. At this stage the applicant is required to obtain a Band Council Resolution from the First Nation, execute the surface agreement contract, and return the agreement to IOGC for final processing.

    Generally, and unless new, significant information is brought forward, IOGC approves all necessary documents related to the surface agreement contract and Step 2 approval is granted. The applicant is now a surface agreement holder and can proceed with the project.
  8. The Environmental Review process is now closed and IOGC Environment and surface agreement holder proceed to the compliance and monitoring phase of the process. For a more detailed explanation of the surface and subsurface lease agreement application process, see Indian Oil and Gas Canada's website.

5.0 Document Submittal and Review Categories

5.1 Submitting Copies

The completed Environmental Review Form (ERF) is submitted as part of the overall surface agreement application package. When submitting the ERF provide:

  • One unbound hard copy and One digital version (PDF format on CD) to Indian Oil and Gas Canada
  • One bound hard copy and One digital version (PDF format on CD) to the First Nation Chief and Council care of the Oil and Gas Representative.


For all communications with IOGC both the LSD location of the project and the IOGC surface agreement number assigned to it are to be cited - IOGC's databases are organized principally on our surface agreement numbering system (OS-####, RW-####, EX-20##-##).

Indian Oil and Gas Canada's mailing address is:

Attention: Manager, Environment
Indian Oil and Gas Canada
Suite 100, 9911 Chiila Boulevard
Tsuu T'ina, AB T2W 6H6

5.2 Incomplete Information

Hundreds of oil and gas applications are processed by IOGC each year. To reduce delays, applicants must correctly complete the ERF. ERFs that are deemed to be substantially incomplete will be returned to the applicant for re-application.

In those instances when the missing information is clerical or otherwise insubstantial, or when IOGC has requested further information, the necessary changes and information may be provided as an addendum to the original document.

5.3 Standard and Non-Standard Environmental Reviews

When a proposed project meets the principles, setbacks, and timings presented in Sections 3.0 and 7.0 of this Guide the environmental review is considered "Standard". If the principles and setbacks have not been met, the environmental review is considered "Non-Standard". In this case, the applicant must provide detailed explanation for the divergence(s), their associated impacts, and the mitigation measures proposed to relieve them.

5.4 Large and Complex Projects

IOGC reviews projects that vary considerably in size and complexity - from pipeline riser sites to multi-well, steam assisted gravity developments (SAGD). If in this context IOGC or the applicant considers the project as large or complex, discussions will be held to scope the project and decide upon the proper review process. Examples of such projects include multi-well or multi-pad projects, projects intersecting environmentally sensitive areas, projects with the potential for aggregate effects or projects employing significantly new technologies.

These types of projects are considered Non-Standard, and discussions with IOGC are required to determine how best to manage the project and properly inform and engage the First Nation.

Applicants may contact IOGC (403-292-5625) or view IOGC's website under Environmental Requirements for additional information. Information identifying the environmental analyst responsible for the different Reserves as well as the list of First Nation Oil and Gas Representatives is also available on the website under contact us.

6.0 Applicable Regulatory Agencies, Legislation, and Guidelines

Regulatory agencies, legislation, and guidelines that can apply to a project on First Nation reserve land are listed below. This list is an aid and is not to be construed as exhaustive. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the project incorporates and complies with the most current references and legislative requirements respectively.

Table A: Regulatory Reference Material

Jurisdiction Title
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2012)
  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999)
  • Fisheries Act (FA) (1985)
  • Historic Sites and Monuments Act (1985)
  • Indian Act (1985, 1990, 1998, 2005, 2008) and Indian Reserve Timber Regulations
  • Indian Oil and Gas Act (1995) and Regulations.
  • Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA)(1917, 1994)
  • Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA)(1985)
  • Species at Risk Act (SARA) (2002)
  • Weed Control Act (Alberta, 2008) and Regulations (2008, 2010)
  • Weed Control Act (British Columbia)
  • Weed Control Act (Manitoba)
  • Weed Control Act (Saskatchewan 2010)
  • Wildlife Act (Alberta, 1997, 2000, 2010)
  • Wildlife Act (BC, 2001, 2008)
  • The Wildlife Act (Manitoba, 2008, 2010)
  • The Wildlife Act (Saskatchewan, 1998)
Subject Document Title
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Considering Aboriginal traditional knowledge in environmental assessments conducted under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act - Interim Principles (CEAA Website, 2013)
  • Guidelines for Incorporating Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Impact Assessment (Mackenzie Valley Review Board, 2005)
  • Aboriginal Consultation and Accommodation – Interim Guidelines for Federal Officials to Fulfill the Legal Duty to Consult (INAC, 2010)
  • Environmental Assessment and Saskatchewan's First Nations: A Resource Handbook (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2008)
Technical Documents
Subject Document Title
  • Directive 056: Energy Development Applications and Schedules (ERCB, 2008 - republished 2009 including Directive 056 errata)
Archaeological, Cultural and Heritage Resources
  • Guide to the Management of Movable Heritage Assets (Treasury Board, 2008)
Migratory BirdsFootnote 2
  • Migratory Birds Environmental Assessment Guidelines (EC, 1998)
Emergency Preparedness
  • Directive 071: Emergency Preparedness and Response Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry (ERCB, DRAFT release, 2010, 2008 and errata 2009)
Environmental Management Strategies
  • Environmental Operating Practices for the Upstream Petroleum Industry specific to Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia – overview, Drilling, Geophysics, Pipelines and Seismic (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, various dates)
  • IL 2002-01: Principles for Minimizing Surface Disturbance in Native Prairie and Parkland Areas (ERCB, 2002)
Environmental Monitor
  • Guideline No. 6 - Required Qualifications – Field Environmental Monitors for Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Development Projects (Saskatchewan Petroleum Industry/ Government Environment Committee 2002)
Fish and Fish Habitat
  • Operational Statements for the Applicable Regions (DFO, ND)
  • Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat (DFO, 1986)
  • Habitat Conservation and Protection Guidelines (DFO, 1998)
  • Freshwater Intake End-of-Pipe Fish Screen Guideline (DFO, 1995)
  • Voluntary Shut Down Criteria for Construction Activity or Operations (Alberta Environmental Protection, Land and Forest Service, 1998)
  • Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment, ND)
  • ST55-2007: Alberta's Base of groundwater Protection (BGWP) Information (AEUB, 2007)
  • Directive 038: Noise Control (ERCB, 2007)
Remediation and Reclamation
  • CCME Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (CCME, var.)
  • Guidelines for Canadian Drinking water Quality (Health Canada 2012)
  • 2010 Reclamation Criteria for Well Sites and Associated Facilities (AESRD, 2010)
  • Reclamation and Surrender Approvals of Surface Agreements (IOGC, 2010)
Species At Risk
  • Petroleum Industry Activity Guidelines for Wildlife Species at Risk in the Prairie and Northern Region – DRAFT (EC, 2009)
  • A Guide to Species at Risk Information for Businesses (EC, 2007)
Species at Risk
Survey Methodologies
  • Occupancy Survey Guidelines for Prairie Plant species at Risk (CWS, 2009)
  • Sensitive Species Inventory Guidelines (AESRD, 2011)
  • Guidelines for Rare Vascular Plant Surveys (ANPC, 2010)
  • Directive 055: Storage Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry (ERCB, 2001)
Surface Water
  • Application Guide - Navigable Water Protection Program Guide (TC, 2010)
  • Petroleum Industry Activity in Native Prairie and Parkland Areas: Guidelines for Minimizing Surface Disturbance (Native Prairie Guidelines Working Group, 2002)
  • Activity Setback Distance Guidelines for Prairie Plant Species at Risk (CWS, EC, 2009)
  • Directive 050: Drilling Waste Management (ERCB, 2012)
  • Directive 058: Oilfield Waste Management Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry (current ed.)
  • Saskatchewan Drilling Waste Management Guidelines (Government of Saskatchewan, 1999)
  • Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment, ND)
  • Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation (CWS, 1991)
  • The Canadian Wetland Classification System (National Wetlands Working Group of the Canadian Committee on Ecological Land Classification, 1987)
  • Canadian Species at Risk (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife Species in Canada (COSEWIC), ND)

7.0 Setbacks, Environmental Requirements and Timings

7.1 Setbacks

Project proposals are to follow the setback requirements outlined in Table B below. Additional environmental requirements are presented in Section 7.2.

As stated in Section 5.3 of this Guide, failure to meet the environmental setbacks and requirements presented here results in a submission being considered Non-Standard. When this occurs discussions with IOGC are required prior to submittal, along with documentation explaining the rationale for the non-conformance(s). This information is to be presented in Appendix 5; Non-Standard Mitigation Measures, of the Environmental Review Form (ERF).

Note that all setback distances presented in this section of the Guide are measured from the closest edge of the lease boundary to the identified feature.

Table B: Setback Requirements

Technical Documents
Feature Exploratory
Surface Leases Pipeline RW
*Water setbacks do not apply where the water body is being crossed. Further, setback requirements are tempered by discretion and professional judgment with respect to the type of water body being considered – e.g., large permanent water body versus intermittently wetted depression.

Other Influencing Factors:

The Minister may consider other factors when determining appropriate setbacks including input from First Nations and other agencies such as fish and wildlife. This may increase the setback for such features as critical wildlife or waterfowl zones - e.g. caribou or trumpeter swan habitat. In some situations, additional setbacks may be required for aesthetic reasons – e.g., along recreational rivers, near camping areas, etc.
Residence or structure with permanent foundationFootnote 3 Sending lines:
180 m-for dynamite charge <12 kg
200 m-for dynamite charge >12 kg and < 20 kg

Receiver lines: 50 m

Vibroseis: 50 m
Greater of: 100 m or as per well licence requirements for sour product. Greater of: 100 m or as per pipeline licence requirements.
Water wells and natural springs Sending lines:
180 m-for dynamite charge <12 kg
200 m-for dynamite charge >12 kg and < 20 kg

Receiver lines: 100 m

Vibroseis: 100 m
100 m minimum. Greater can be requested by the First Nation Greater of: 100 m or per ERCB Directive 056
Water Well Testing Required within 500 m of sending line. 500 m from wellhead. Not Applicable (N/A)
Steep Slopes (25%) Coulee Breaks, River Valley Escarpments 45 m 45 m 45 m
Water Body*Water setbacks do not apply where the water body is being crossed. Further, setback requirements are tempered by discretion and professional judgment with respect to the type of water body being considered – e.g., large permanent water body versus intermittently wetted depression. 50 m from riparian area edge.

If no riparian area, 50 m from the edge of the water body's high water mark or seasonal high water edgeb

Provide that seismic receiver lines must be hand cut to maximum 1.75m width within 50 m of waterbodies where there is a steep slope leading to a watercourse or water body the hand cut must begin at the top of the slope even if that exceeds the 50 m.
For fish-bearing water bodies: 100 m from water body's high water mark or seasonal high water edge

For non fish-bearing water bodies: 45 m from the ordinary high watermark.

If closer is proposed, applicant to provide rationale and mitigation measures in a plan consistent with; Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation (CWS, 1991)
For fish-bearing: 100 m from water body's high water mark or seasonal high water edge

From non fish-bearing: 45 m setback from the high water mark.

If closer is proposed, applicant to provide rationale and mitigation measures in a plan consistent with; Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation (CWS, 1991)
Wildlife Habitat Features Most conservative of: Federal, Provincial, or Territorial Guidelines. Most conservative of: Federal, Provincial, or Territorial Guidelines Most conservative of: Federal, Provincial, or Territorial Guidelines
Lease cut and fill N/A 10 m. If > 10 m, IOGC may require a geo-technical study N/A
TEK (Cultural and/or Heritage Resources) Greater of: 100 m or as directed by the First Nation.  
Surface improvements (roads and rails) Per Provincial/Territorial guidelines. Note: 40 m or closer with consent of land owner. Per Provincial/Territorial guidelines. Per Provincial/Territorial guidelines.
First Nation roads Setbacks to be determined through consultation with First Nation and IOGC. Setbacks to be determined through consultation with First Nation and IOGC. Setbacks to be determined through consultation with First Nation and IOGC.
Resident Consultation Within 500 m of project boundary 500 m, and notification as per well licence requirements Greater of: 100 m or as per pipeline licence requirements
Consultation for sour gas wells
(all levels)
N/A 500 m from lease boundary as well as entire Emergency Planning Zone As above

7.2 Environmental Requirements

7.2.1 Exploratory Seismic

  1. Low Impact Seismic (LIS) techniques are required for both 2D and 3D programs. LIS techniques include: meandering avoidance, reducing lines of site, avoidance of merchantable timber, and use of vehicles with low ground pressure treads.
  2. For 3D seismic programs, applicants are to keep average line width less than 2.5 m Maximum allowable width for a source line width is 3 m. All receiver lines are to be hand cut to a maximum of 1.75 m wide.
  3. For 2D programs line width should be as narrow as possible, targeting 2.5 m or less. All receiver lines are to be hand cut to a maximum width of 1.75 m.
  4. For all programs the following applies:
    • Where an existing access road is within 500 m of a proposed access road. The existing road is to be used.
    • Where existing cut-lines are within 400 m of a proposed line. The existing line(s) are to be used.
    • Where an existing water crossing is within 1 km of proposed seismic lines, the existing crossing is to be used.
  5. A 100 m buffer of undisturbed vegetation must be maintained between seismic lines and any lakes. Setbacks of 50 m are required from the edge of riparian area or should none exist, from the high water edge. Shot holes are not permitted within riparian areas. Only hand cut lines are permitted within 50 m of riparian areas.Footnote 4
  6. Where tree and shrub removal has been authorized, lines must be dog legged a minimum of 45 m back from the edge of an intersecting RW with a minimum 10 m offset. This applies to all: road, trail and watercourse crossings, intersecting seismic lines and points of access, the intersection of seismic lines with Reserve boundaries. In addition, doglegs shall be maintained every 400 m on lines greater than 1 km to reduce line of sight where natural topography or avoidance cutting does not provide such visual obstruction. Rollback shall be implemented 250 m from the intersection or as the band requests.
Text description of of this graph

This is a visual diagram illustrating the required buffers surrounding water bodies and riparian areas. The diagram has a waterbody in the middle with a riparian area surrounding it. Lines are drawn to represent the allowable seismic line widths and no cut setback zones. Companies are required to leave a 50 m buffer from the regular seismic line width to the edge of the riparian area. A 1.75 m hand cut line is permitted within the 50 m buffer up until 10 m from the edge of a waterbody. No seismic lines are permitted within 10 m from the edge of a water body.

7.2.2 Surface Leases and Pipeline RWs

Lease and RW development must meet provincial well and pipeline requirements and industry Best Management Practices (BMPs) including, but not limited to:

  1. Lease location should avoid removing merchantable timber.
  2. Where an existing access road is within 500 m of a proposed access road. The existing road is to be used.
  3. Where practicable, access roads are not to be stripped until a producing well has been confirmed.
  4. Subsequent flowline installation should be planned to follow access roads and existing clearings.

7.2.3 Special Requirements: Native Grasslands

  1. Native grasslands to be avoided possible. If not:
    1. Well sites, pipelines, risers and other infrastructure are to be constructed using minimal disturbance techniques.
    2. Where site construction and drilling are of such duration that deeper drilling and operations are expected to exceed 10 days, topsoil protection is required:
      1. Well site construction will allow up to 2/3rd of the lease site to be stripped and salvaged for topsoil protection, with the topsoil being replaced on the salvaged area upon reclamation of the site. Only that area immediately surrounding the wellhead and storage tank(s) for the direct needs of the downhole drilling equipment and heavy support vehicles will be stripped.
      2. The extended area of the lease (the remaining 1/3rd) where servicing operations, smaller vehicles and supervision trailers are situated, will not be stripped; but will be managed in such a way as to minimize the impact to the surface by only operating in dry or frozen ground conditions, minimizing the duration of drilling days, and reducing vehicles within the non stripped area to only those required for the immediate servicing and lighter support of the drilling rig.
  2. When conducting a project in native grassland areas the following applies:
    1. Only above-ground sumps shall be used,
    2. No land spraying of drilling waste,
    3. Soil rutting shall not occur,
    4. If required, weed free, sterilized straw or coconut matting for crimping may be used,
    5. Natural recovery re-vegetation shall be utilized, where practical:
      1. On high erosion sites, where natural recovery cannot be used, assisted natural recovery is allowed.
      2. On sites that are prone to weeds and agronomic species invasion, reseeding with suitable native species is required.
    6. Certificates of seed analysis must be obtained for the native seed lot to ensure no weeds are introduced to the area. This analysis must be provided to IOGC upon request.
    7. Vegetation control (mechanical – mowing/brush control) must not disrupt wildlife and bird breeding and nesting times.
    8. Weed control in native grasslands must be by mechanical (trimming, cutting mowing) or manual methods (handpicking). Herbicide use shall be avoided due to potential adverse effects on native plants, birds and wetlands. In the event herbicide is required, surface agreement holder shall undertake spot spraying in areas where there is surrounding native vegetation and/or within 100 m of a wetland.
    9. Where weeds are a problem, on-going inspection (minimum two times per year during the growing season) and control during throughout operational phase of the project is required.

7.3 Timing Restrictions

There are three important timing restrictions related to project construction:

7.3.1 Adverse Ground Conditions

Construction is to proceed outside of adverse ground conditions. This reduces soil impacts such as compaction and admixing.

7.3.2 Sensitive Species; Species at Risk Act (SARA), et al.

Timing restrictions for project construction are often required to protect listed and other species during critical periods of their lifecycle. Refer to Table J (Section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 5) and Section 8.0, subsection E.7 of this Guide for further information.

7.3.3 Migratory Birds Convention Act

There are two important environmental planning requirements that arise from this legislation:

  1. Migratory birds and their nests cannot be disturbed.
  2. Construction cannot occur during the breeding and nesting season for migratory birds. In 2014, Environment Canada refined the timing windows for the breeding and nesting seasons

Contact IOGC for current timing windows

7.4 Boundaries - Spatial and Temporal

Provided below are some initial guidelines on determining spatial and temporal boundaries. These guidelines are not exhaustive and the applicant is to ensure current best practices are applied in establishing boundaries.

When Establishing Spatial Boundaries consider:

  1. Footprint Size - lease or permit area plus surrounding lands. This will vary with the species or VEC under considerationFootnote 5;
  2. Expression of the effect. For example physical footprint is limited to the lease size, but noise impacts can extend well past the footprint boundaries; and
  3. Cause-effect relationships – Interactions between project activities and Valued Ecosystem Components (VECs).

When establishing Temporal Boundaries consider:

  1. Project lifecycle (cradle-to-grave) – construction, operations, decommissioning and reclamation; and
  2. Recovery of VECs to pre-disturbance conditions.

Note that documented ranges of wildlife species are rarely exact. Applicants are advised to select spatial boundaries of varying sizes to ensure that species' ranges that overlap with the project area are included.

VECs are defined as "elements of the environment that people see as important." The environment includes physical, biological, social, economic, historical, archeological, cultural, and aesthetics elementsFootnote 6.

7.5 Site Visit

Site visits for the purpose of acquiring environmental data must be conducted by an environmental professional as defined in this Guide, or a person acting under the direct supervision of such an individual.

7.5.1 Involvement of the First Nation

Applicants must contact the First Nation Oil and Gas Representative to arrange site visits. Further, an Applicant must directly involve the First Nation Oil and Gas Representative and any other knowledge holders as specified by the First Nation, in any site assessments. With respect to the site assessment of Heritage Resources; the involvement of person who holds Aboriginal traditional knowledge is advisable.

7.5.2 Field Investigation Season

Site assessments and field investigations are to be conducted during the growing season for proper species and habitat identification, and accurate soil studies. This is the general time period from May through September.

An exception to this can apply when an entire project is located on cultivated land and the project is project during frozen conditions. In such instances, field work can be extended later into the fall if practical. For this to apply the project area must be at least 1 km from Native Prairie or Parkland and all other setbacks must be maintained. A pre-discussion with IOGC is required before proceeding with "out-of-season" field work.

If a site assessment is conducted out-of-season and the project area is identified as sensitive, e.g., Heritage Resources, additional assessment work will be required. Further, if there is potential for species at risk habitat or features in the area, and such features cannot be confirmed as being present or absent due to the late timing of the field work, then the application will be delayed until the proper fieldwork can be completed.

8.0 Completing IOGC's Environmental Review Form

This section of the Guide explains the information required to complete each section of the ERF. In many instances, the information being requested in the form is self-evident and is not elaborated upon here.

The material below follows the naming and numbering convention of the ERF itself.


The spacing provided to complete the ERF is restricted. Use Appendix 14 of the ERF to provide additional information.

Section A Project Identification

A.1- A.2

The information required here is self-evident.

A.3 New Project or Amendment

For both new projects and amendments to existing projects, complete all of Section A. If the project is an amendment to an existing surface lease agreement, provide the original agreement number and proceed to Section F of the ERF.

A.4 Project Location

All locational data must be expressed in both LSD and latitude/longitude coordinates. Latitude and longitude coordinates require only precision in degrees and minutes. Exceptions to this are wellsites; they require precision to seconds.

For linear projects provide locational data for both endpoints. For those linear projects that originate or terminate outside First Nation reserve lands, provide locational points for that portion of the project within the First Nation reserve lands, and for the final terminus. Further:

  1. for Seismic 2D projects provide the start and terminus location for those portions of the source line located within the Reserve.
  2. for Seismic 3D programs provide the sections of the land the project encompasses.
  3. for Wells, provide locations for surface and bottom hole.
  4. for Access Roads, provide locations from start to terminus. Measure from the centre of the road.
  5. for Pipelines, provide locations for start and terminus points (tie-ins).

A.5 Anticipated Start Date

Refers to the projected start date for construction.

A.6 Date of Site Visit

Refers to the date(s) the environmental professional conducted field studies, and any visits with the First Nation representatives.

A.7 Type of Application

Complete Section C: "Standard vs. Non-Standard Application" of the ERF. If any of the answers to Section C are yes, the project is classified as Non-standard. Also, see section 5.0 of this Guide for further discussion on standard versus non-standard project designation.

Section B Project Description

B.1 Project Type

Check all boxes that are a component of the application.

For multi-well pads, indicate the number of wells to be drilled. If a project involves more than one well pad, then a separate surface application including the ERF is required for each location. Contact IOGC's Environment Unit to discuss options for meeting the environmental requirements of such "multi–location" projects.

Note that the definition of a Battery in this context is any facility that receives and stores oil from more than one well. Further, a multi-well pad is considered a battery regardless if oil is stored on site or not.

For Section B1, Subsection e: "Have actions been taken...", describe in details the efforts made to integrate the infrastructure requirements of the project with the infrastructure – roads, access routes, that already exist. It is a principle tenet of project planning on Reserve Land to minimize the physical footprint of a project.

B.2 Product

For Pipelines indicate the type of fluid(s) to be transported.

For Wells, indicate anticipated product(s), estimated percentages of each, and when applicable; H2S concentrations.

B.3 Describe All Proposed Project Activities

Describe all project activities from cradle to grave. Table E in this Guide: "Phases of Project Life Cycle", provides a list of possible activities that should be considered (Section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 1). Some of the activities listed are unique to project type, while others apply to all projects. Descriptions of activities must provide enough information for a clear understanding of the entire project. The proposed project details should incorporate the setback requirements outlined in Section 7.0 of this Guide.

B.4 Potential Impacts, Mitigation and Related Residual Effects

Table F in this Guide provides a format and suggestions on how to summarize the effects analysis (Section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 2).

B.5 Drilling and Completion Fluids

This section applies to the drilling of oil or gas wells, and the horizontal drilling component of pipeline construction.

B.5.a - Drilling Fluid: if "Other" is checked, all drilling returns must flow back and be stored in tanks (closed system). "Other" drilling fluids must be disposed off-reserve at an approved facility. Use Appendix 14 to describe the drilling fluid composition, and the proposed handling and disposal procedures.

B.5.b - Drilling Fluid Disposal: Check all boxes that describe how drilling fluid will be disposed. If the "Other" box is checked, describe the proposed disposal method and provide location.

B.5.c - Hydraulic Fracturing: indicate the number of stages planned for the project and estimates of the fluid and volumes for each stage. A summary of the designed fracturing program can be used to provide this information and placed in Appendix 14.

B.5.c.iv: Use existing information sources on the known aquifers in the region, e.g., government data or local well data. Applicants are not expected to undertake new groundwater studies to delineate groundwater regimes. If specific data does not exist, use professional judgment.

B.6 Water Source

IOGC does not provide authorization for water extraction. Water obtained both on and off-reserve requires provincial authorization. A copy of the Provincial authorization must be made available to IOGC upon request.

If a water source located on Reserve is to be used, it must be accessed through existing infrastructure only - i.e., no new roads. Also, the First Nation may also require a Band Council Resolution for the withdrawal of water on Reserve.

For each phase of a project life-cycle provide the following:

  1. The volume of water required; accurate estimates can be derived from past project experience.
  2. Description of and LSD coordinates for the water source.
  3. Identify the necessary permit and authorizations required to withdraw the water.

B.7 Distance to Improvements

An improvement can be one of three types: a residence, a water well, or a building or structure with a permanent foundation e.g., cistern.

For all projects, distances are measured from the closet edge of the surveyed lease to the identified improvement.

Section C Standard vs. Non-Standard Application

This section of the ERF identifies those aspects of a project that are unique and require specific attention. Answering yes to any of the questions will designate the project application as Non-Standard. The review period and information requirements for Non-Standard applications will vary depending on the project's complexity. As stated earlier in Sections 5.3 and 5.4, if a project is Large or Complex, or employs substantively new technologies it also will be designated as Non-Standard, and the applicant should contact IOGC for assistance on how to proceed.

For Non-Standard projects, use Appendix 6 of the ERF to present the unique aspects of the project and proposed mitigation strategies.

C.1 Variances to Setbacks, Timings, et. al

Consult Section 7.0 of this Guide. If all the requirements of Section 7.0 can be met answer 'No'; if they cannot, answer 'Yes' and include Appendix 6 (section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 6).

C.2 Waterbody Crossing

Check off the appropriate box. If 'Other' is checked, describe in detail.

C.3 1 in 100 years Floodplain

This information is available from local and regional municipalities, and the hydrological departments of the provincial government. Use the high water mark as defined by the local authorities.

C.4 Native Grasslands

Native grasslands are lands permanently vegetated by native, herbaceous species. Regardless of whether these lands have been ploughed or disturbed in the past, if they are predominantly composed of native species and do not undergo regular cultivation or soil disturbance they are considered native.

If there are questions around the designation of Native Grasslands, consult with the agricultural and environment departments of the applicable province, and with the IOGC Environment Unit.

C.5 Problem Soils

Problem soils are soils with strongly contrasting differences in the quality of upper and lower soil profile, to a degree that soil capability would be compromised if standard soil handling procedures were usedFootnote 7.

C.6 Federal Permits

Include any federal permit documentation.

C.7 Critical Wildlife Habitat Features

Include Appendix 6, see Section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 6.

C.8 Potential for Archeological Resources

If proposed project is located on or close to lands where there are known or suspected archaeological resources, a determination of the archaeological potential of the area must be completed by a qualified archaeologist and attached in Appendix 13.

C.9 Archaeological or Cultural Resources

Where possible, ensure TEK setbacks (greater of: 100 m or as directed by the First Nation) are met.
If a culturally significant site or archaeological/historical resources were identified during the site visit or are likely to be affected by the project activities, include Appendix 6 (see Section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 6).

C.10 Special Designations

This refers to any land use designations that municipal, provincial, or federal governments have established that geographically encompass a First Nation Reserve. For example, the Municipality of Miry Creek No. 29 in southern Saskatchewan has lands zoned as Environmentally Sensitive that encompass gas field operations on the Carry-the-Kettle Indian Reserve.

C.11 Non-standard size

A well pad exceeding AER's Integrated Standards and Guidelines or a SAGD operation are examples of projects that are of a non-standard size.

C.12 Discussion on Non-Standard Mitigation

The applicant must provide a reasoned justification as to why non-standard mitigation techniques are appropriate for the project. If the subject was discussed with IOGC provide a brief summary here. Include names, dates, location, items discussed, items agreed upon, and other relevant information.

Section D First Nation Contact Information, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Resident Consultation, and Communication with Community

Applicants must contact the First Nation Oil and Gas Representative to discuss the proposed project. The applicant is strongly encouraged to directly involve both the First Nation Oil and Gas Representative and holders of TEK in any site assessments.


Be conscious of First Nations Protocol when asking or requesting information with respect to Traditional, Cultural and/or Ceremonial sites. If you are unsure, just ask.

D.1 First Nation Contact Information

The information requirement for this section is self-evident.

D.2 Site Visit and TEK

Discuss traditional land use with the First Nation Oil and Gas Representative, Elder and/or other designated person(s). Traditional land use means any past or current traditional land uses. It can include: fishing areas, berry and medicinal picking areas, hunting, and recreational activities. Identify and discuss cultural, or traditional sites; sweat lodges, sundance sites, places of offerings, tree ribbons/ties, etc. Ensure TEK setbacks (greater of: 100 m or as directed by the First Nation) are met.


The applicant is expected to consider TEK, and demonstrate how it was used to inform project planning. However, sharing of this information (intellectual property rights) is at the discretion of the First Nation and consent is required from them to access and use it. For the purpose of reporting, a sketch (shaded) of the general area may be used to present the information in the ERF and to derive setbacks.

  • ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHS of traditional structures, sweat lodges, sundance ceremonial sites or other cultural or traditional sites considered sacred or significant is permitted.

D.3 Resident Consultation and Communication with Community

The applicant is required to consult on-Reserve residents within a 500 m radius (100 m for RW).

If there are residents within the consultation radii, attach Appendix 3 (section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 3).

The importance of comprehensive, meaningful engagement with the First Nations cannot be overstated. IOGC recommends that the applicant plan for ongoing dialogue throughout the lifecycle of the project employing such tools as: newsletters, annual public meetings, open houses, school events, job fairs, posters, etc., as appropriate.

The level of public engagement required will vary from project to project. For Large or Complex Projects, IOGC recommends a comprehensive public involvement program, including the posting of public notification at least 60 days prior to the completion of the ERF. First Nation Newsletters and First Nation Office Bulletin Boards are examples of mechanisms by which to achieve this. Depending on the size of the project and the number of residents within the consultation area, the applicant should consider holding public meetings or open houses. Failure to properly and effectively engage the First Nation and public in project planning can result in significant delays to the review process.

Applicants are also reminded of their obligations under privacy and personal information protection legislation. For example, companies and organizations may need to disclose the need and purpose for collecting any personal information, the circumstances under which this information will be disclosed, and details regarding the security, retention, and ultimately the destruction of this information.

Section E Site-Specific Environmental Information

E.1 Topography

Include information on: predominant slope direction, slope position, whether the slope leads directly to a waterbody, whether there is a steep slope within 50 m, and the elevation change across the lease. Describe any potential stability issues.

E.2 Soils

E.2.a – Site Specific Soil Evaluation

Site specific soil evaluations are required prior to any construction. This establishes a baseline of current soil conditions and a reference for final reclamation of the site. The results of the evaluation are to be placed in: "Appendix 4 Soil Evaluation", of the ERF (section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 4).

  • For surface leases, a minimum of nine soil sample points are required at each siteFootnote 8.
  • For access roads and pipelines RWs, soil samples are to be collected every 100 m and at both terminuses.
  • Soil sampling is not required for geophysical exploratory programs.
  • Sampling intensity should increase at locations with greater topographic variability.
  • Clearly mark soil sampling locations and site characteristics on a site diagram in the ERF.

Analytic measurements are required on a minimum of one soil sample. The analytics to be tested for include: electrical conductivity, sodium absorption ratio (SAR), metals, and texture. It is up to the professional judgment of the field investigator to determine if further sampling and additional analytics are necessary. Recognize that the purpose here is to establish an accurate, defensible baseline for reclamation efforts that occur later; in some cases decades later.

Greater attention to soil conservation measures is expected on arable lands, particularly when problem soils are expected to be encountered. A Problem Soil is a soil having strongly contrasting differences in the quality of upper and lower soil profile to a degree that soil capability would be compromised if standard soil handling procedures were used. For example, soils requiring special handling procedures during construction because they are salt-affected, contain sand or gravel layers, or contain bedrock. With respect to salt-affected soils, detailed soil chemistry is necessary to determine appropriate conservation measures.

E.2.b – Soil Erosion Potential

The table below can be used to calculate a measure of soil erosion potential.

Table C: Calculating Soil Erosion Potential
Slope Gradient
% 0 - 2 >2 – 7 >7 – 13 >13 - 20 >20 - 56 >56
Score 1 2 4 8 24 32
Slope Length
Meters 0 – 14 >14 - 19 >49 - 50 >50 - 150 >150
Score 1 2 4 6 8
Depth of Unconsolidated Material
Centimeters 0 – 24 >24 - 49 >49-100 >100
Score 4 3 2 1
Depth to First Impermeable Layer
Centimetres 0 – 49 >49 - 100 >100 -150 >150
Score 4 2 1 0
Score C, SiCL SC,CL, ACL, L, SiL, Si SL, S
Score 8 4 1
Summary Scoring
Value Erosion Potential Score
4 – 8 Insignificant
9 -13 Slight
14 – 19 Moderate
20 – 40 High
41 – 26 Extreme

E.3 Hydrology

For the purposes of this document, hydrology refers to a waterbody(s) on the surface of land. A waterbody is any location where water flows or is present, whether or not the flow or the presence of water is continuous, intermittent, or occurs only during flooding. The above definition includes such descriptions as: sloughs, creeks, rivers, riparian areas, seasonal and ephemeral draws, natural springs, muskeg, water courses, low, seasonally wet areas, natural or man-made wetlands, surface aquifers, and dugouts, etc. With respect to wetlands, IOGC follows the: "Canadian Wetland Classification System". The Stewart and Kantrud classification is also a recognized, acceptable methodology.

Setbacks from waterbodies are calculated from the closest edge of the surface agreement to the ordinary high water mark. The high water mark is often defined by the local provincial agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Employ the more stringent of the two.

Indicate whether waterbodies are present and identify them on the survey plan. Waterbodies within 45 m of the project area must be accurately defined and delineated. Also identify any major or fish bearing waterbodies within 500 m of the project area.

E.4 Hydrogeology

The requirements of this section do not apply to pipelines, pipeline riser sites, and access roads. They do apply to geophysical seismic programs, well sites, and other project types. If you are unsure as to whether your project may have environmental requirements pertaining to groundwater, contact the IOGC Environment Unit.

It is recognized that groundwater information is not always readily available on First Nation Reserve Land. It is further recognized that it is not the applicant's responsibility to perform detailed compiling and evaluations of groundwater conditions. The information being sought here is to establish a baseline of groundwater conditions for existing water wells before any construction starts.

E.4.a - Water Wells within 500 m

Water wells - domestic and agricultural - within 500 m of the project area are to be sampled and tested prior to the commencement of any construction or seismic activity. Laboratories have to be accredited for each parameter tested. Samples should be taken from the tap and not the wellhead. The applicant is also strongly encouraged to conduct a second set of sampling post construction.

IOGC requires:

  1. routine potability analysis for the following common water quality parameters:
    • Bicarbonate (HCO3)
    • Calcium (Ca)
    • Carbonate (CO3)
    • Chloride (Cl)
    • Fluoride (Fl)
    • Iron (Fe) - Dissolved and Total (Accurate iron and manganese analysis requires proper preservation of the sample)
    • Magnesium (Mg)
    • Manganese (Mn)
    • Nitrite + Nitrate (NO2 + NO3)
    • pH
    • Potassium (K)
    • Sodium (Na)
    • Sulphate (SO4)
    • Total Dissolved Solids
    • Total Alkalinity
    • Total Hardness
  2. Total Extractable Hydrocarbons (TEH).

Bacteriological sampling and analysis is not required to be conducted by the applicant, as it is an extremely sensitive test. However, the applicant will need to contact the local First Nation health authority to identify when the well was last tested. If it was tested in the past 365 days, no further action is required. If it has not been tested in the past 365 days, the applicant is to request the local health authority to conduct the bacteriological test prior to drilling.

For coal bed methane (CBM) wells, IOGC has adopted the Alberta Government's Standard for Baseline Water-Well Testing. Detailed information on the sampling requirements and correct protocols is available from the following Government of Alberta publications:

  1. Standard for Baseline Water-Well Testing for Coalbed Methane/Natural Gas in Coal Operations (April 2006)
  2. Gas Sampling Requirements for Baseline Water-Well Testing for Coalbed Methane/Natural Gas in Coal Operations (June 2006)
  3. The Free Gas Sampling Standard Operating Procedure for Baseline Water Well Testing (March 2009)

For all water wells located within 500m of the lease site the following is required:

  1. Note and locate on the Legal Survey Plan.
  2. Provide depth, distance to natural springs, and productive capability; including flow rates and direction.
  3. Carry-out sampling and laboratory analysis.
  4. Include copies of the laboratory results to IOGC. Present the laboratory results in a table that cross references Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and the CCME's Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic life, and highlight any exceedance. This formatting can often be provided directly by the laboratory.
  5. If testing results in an exceedance the Applicant must send a notification letter to the well owner, or occupant, IOGC, local First Nation health authority, and the Regional Health Canada Branch. A template of the letter and mailing addresses is provided in Table K of this document in Section 8, subsection G, Appendix 11.
  6. In support of CAPP's Guiding Principles for Hydraulic Fracturing; Operating Practice 3 Baseline Groundwater Testing, the Applicant is encouraged to provide all groundwater test results to the relevant provincial groundwater agency.
  1. The guidelines cited above are to be used for all water well testing – including cisterns and other water sources currently being used for agricultural purposes.
  2. IOGC cannot complete its environmental review of a project until the water well data has been received.

For Large or Complex projects, discussions with IOGC are required to confirm information requirements for groundwater protection.

E.5 Vegetation and Surrounding Land Use

Identify the dominant vegetation type and list the dominant vegetation species. This should include percent cover of the dominant vegetation types. Table D below provides definitions for different types of land uses. If a land use other than those listed is identified within the proposed project area, provide a clear description.

Table D: Definition and Requirements by Land Type
Type Definition Requirements
Forested Any treed land, whether or not the forest vegetation is utilized for commercial ventures. Timber salvage is required on all First Nation Reserve Land. Cuts > 2 m in height above ground surface of regrowth are considered a new cut. Include plans for the salvageable timber (e.g. log decks, firewood) and non-salvageable timber (e.g. mulched, burned etc). The location of log decks must be shown on the survey plan.

Describe the dominant forest cover type, and species and provide data on salvageable timber, as follows:
  • Coniferous: average diameter at breast height (dbh);
  • Deciduous: average dbh;
  • Volume of timber requiring salvage: deciduous and coniferous (m3); and
  • Estimated number of loads (based on 45 m3/load).
Cultivated Lands managed under conventional, minimum or zero till practices for agricultural purposes. Includes croplands, haylands, and tame pasture. Indicate:
  • Type and percentage of forage species vs. native species.
  • Last time area was seeded.
  • Location and quantity of native prairie or parkland within a 1 km radius.
Croplands are cultivated lands seeded yearly. Indicate:
  • Type and percentage of species.
  • Time of last seeding.
  • Any rotation schedule.
Hay Lands: are cultivated lands seeded to agronomic species every few years, and swathed and baled for feed. Indicate:
  • Type and percentage of species
  • Time of last seeding
  • Any rotation schedule.
Tame Pasture Lands are cultivated lands seeded to agronomic grass and legume species e.g., timothy +alfalfa, and are not swathed and baled for hay. They are managed through livestock and grazing rotation. Indicate:
  • Type and percentage of forage species vs. native species.
  • Last time area was seeded.
  • Location and quantity of native prairie or parkland within a 1 km radius.
Native Grassland Native Grasslands are lands that are permanently vegetated by native herbaceous species. Native grasslands commonly present a mixture of different native grass species, forbs, shrubs and tree species. Regardless, of whether these lands have been ploughed or disturbed in the past, if they are currently composed dominantly of native species and do not undergo regular cultivation or soil disturbance they are considered native. Indicate the relative proportions and coverage of the different species.
Peatland Treed and non-treed uncultivated peat lands Identify the types of species present.

E.6 Weeds, Invasive, and Other Problem Species

The nature and extent of weeds on a project site must be documented prior to any construction. Indicate whether weeds were identified both on and near to the proposed location. If weeds are observed, provide a list of species, and include classifications in accordance with the relevant provincial legislative requirements. Also provide an estimate of percent coverage using standard range health assessment protocols.


The final reclamation of projects often stalls on the issue of weed and problem plants. It is critical to establish an accurate and defensible baseline before the landscape is altered.

During the lifespan of a project, applicants are expected to have an ongoing weed management plan in place. If, based on findings from the site assessment aggressive weed management is anticipated, include a summary of the plan as an additional appendix to the ERF. IOGC may request copies of weed management plans to ensure they meet local and other requirements.

E.7 Wildlife and Wildlife Sign

Include wildlife and wildlife sign observed as part of the site visit. Under 'observation type,' use visual, call, or describe the habitat feature observed (e.g. bear den). Use Appendix 13 to include additional information or reports.

E.8 Species at Risk (Vegetation, Wildlife and Fish)

For the purposes of this Guide, the term Listed Species or Listed, refers to those plant and animal species with unique protection requirements as identified in provincial, territorial, and federal legislation and guidelines. Examples are species that are cited in SARA or Saskatchewan's Wildlife Act.

Table J at the end of this Guide provides a template for the type of information being sought here (Section 8.0, subsection G, Appendix 5). The table is to include the following:

Additional information is to be sourced through provincial databases on rare species, species at risk, or unique floral, and through discussions with local wildlife officials. Indicate whether there have been any recorded observations of listed species.

The information from above, together with findings from the site assessment, is used to determine:

  1. The habitat potential for a Listed Species within and immediately adjacent to the project area and;
  2. The likelihood and nature of project effects on such species.

If, from the preceding analysis the habitat potential is identified as high, a site survey for that species is required. Such a survey must be carried out employing the correct timing and methodology protocols.

  1. If species at risk have been identified within the regional area or proposed project area, or if habitat potential is high, a site survey for these species will be required. Rare plant surveys are mandatory on proposed projects located on native prairie.
  2. All Species at Risk and Rare species surveys must be conducted in accordance with current best practices. See section 6.0 of this Guide for methodology references.

Findings are to be presented in Appendix 5 of the ERF. Include methodologies employed, conclusions and recommendations in this appendix.

E.9 Fish and Fish Habitat

Indicate whether there is fish habitat within the regional and proposed project area. Compliance with SARA and the Fisheries Act is required. Contact DFO for details. Correspondences with DFO must be included as part of Appendix 12 of the ERF.

Applicants are required to follow the DFO Operational Statements relevant for the province or territory where the project is proposed. This can include the following requirements:

Indicate whether any project activities or mitigation requires authorization under the Fisheries Act or the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Section F Amendment, Additional Well/Pipeline, Change of Use, and Expiry of Environmental Protection Terms

This section is to be completed when a surface lease agreement lease exists but requires renewal or other modification. This can occur for a number of reasons:

  1. The lease is amended e.g., addition of lands to expand a single well pad to a multi-well pad;
  2. An additional well or pipeline is being applied for without any new lands added;
  3. Application is made to change the use of the facility e.g., conversion of a producing well to a service well; or
  4. The project was not constructed within 1.5 years of the surface agreement being executed, and the Environmental Protection Terms have expired.

If the proposed changes to the existing surface lease are moderate and occur within 18 months of the original signed agreement, the original ERF often remains valid and the existing Environmental Protection Terms are simply renewed. If the changes proposed are substantive, or if environmental conditions have changed significantly, a new ERF may be required. If you are unsure as to whether your surface agreement must undergo a new environmental review, contact IOGC's Environment Unit.

Note that application to convert an existing facility to a Service Well must meet additional requirements as described in Section 36 of the Indian Oil and Gas Regulations, 1995.

Section G Appendices

Appendix 1 Project Activities and Duration

Table E below lists project activities with potential for environmental effects at different phases of a project life cycle.

Table E: Phases of Project Life Cycle
Project   Project activities with Potential Environmental Effects
Exploratory Projects:
required for both seismic 2D and 3D projects
  • Schedule including time of year, frequency and duration of each phase
  • Seismic line and access route selection including use of existing lines versus new cut lines
  • Surveying and clearing of seismic lines and staging areas including helicopter pads
  • Water body crossings (i.e. stream crossings)
  • Collection of water for shot point drilling
  • Drilling of shot holes and placement of dynamite
  • Laying of cables and recording equipment
  • Detonating the dynamite or operating vibroseis equipment
  • Recording the seismic
  • Noise management
  • Waste and chemical management
  • Vegetation management
  • Reclamation of shot holes and seismic lines
Surface Leases:
required for a well site, battery, compressor, pipeline valve riser, access road, remote borrow pit, remote sump, and/or communication tower
  • Schedule including time of year, frequency and duration of each phase
  • Site selection and access road routing including water crossings, low areas etc
  • Surveying
  • Safety management (signage and fencing requirements)
  • Clearing, grubbing and grading
  • Construction of surface lease including access road and well site, borrow pits, remote sumps, and temporary use areas, etc
  • Disposal and/or storage of woody materials (if required)
  • Soil handling, salvage, storage and monitoring
  • Berm construction, maintenance and monitoring
  • Contouring of location for leveling of drilling rig
  • Installation and operation of drilling rig
  • Collection of surface water and groundwater for drilling purposes
  • Waste and chemical management
  • Noise management
  • Vegetation management
  • Completions activities (including well testing, well stimulation activities such as hydraulic fracturing)
  • Construction and operation of production facilities
  • Flaring and/or incineration of gas (clean up and testing)
  • Trenching and installation of infrastructure on-lease (including pipe)
  • Product transportation
  • Operational activities, servicing and routine site monitoring
  • Operational activities associated with a compressor, battery or tank farm
  • Decommissioning and abandonment of facilities
  • Interim and final reclamation of surface lease including access road, well site and associated leases
Pipeline RW:
Required for: flow line, pipeline and any linear disturbance not otherwise included in a surface lease.
  • Schedule including time of year, frequency and duration of each phase
  • Pipeline routing including water crossings, low areas etc
  • Safety management (signage and fencing requirements)
  • Surveying
  • Clearing and grubbing pipeline RW
  • Stream/water crossing
  • Disposal of woody material (if required)
  • Soil handling and portion of RW being stripped
  • Trenching/ploughing/boring of pipe
  • Installation and type of pipe
  • Pipeline integrity testing and disposal of testing fluids
  • Backfilling trench
  • Initial reclamation of pipeline RW
  • Pipe maintenance and servicing including pigging, pressure testing, inspection
  • Waste and chemical management
  • Noise management
  • Vegetation management
  • Operational activities and routine site monitoring
  • Decommissioning and abandonment of facilities and pipelines
  • Interim and final reclamation of pipeline RW
  • Other/miscellaneous activities not described elsewhere

Appendix 2 Potential Impacts, Mitigation and Related Residual Effects Table

Table F below provides a format to present this information.

Table F: Potential Impacts, Mitigation and Related Residual EffectsFootnote 10
VEC Potential Impact from the Project Significance Mitigation Measure Predicted Residual Effect
High, Medium Low, Minimal
Vegetation Disturbance or Loss of Vegetation Direct negative effect. Impact likely low due to size of area short term duration, Reversible, following construction and/or decommissioning and reclamation Access/Lease Construction/Drilling
  • Sites have been surveyed to minimize timber removal as much as possible.
  • Native Vegetation habitat avoided.
  • To preserve growth medium, the topsoil on access and lease will be stripped and stored for later reclamation (seed source).
Loss or alteration of the vegetation communities during construction of the access and lease.
  • Ground surface disturbance outside of the surveyed areas (including shallow ditches, non-operational areas, etc.) will be reclaimed and seeded with an appropriate seed mix approved by the First Nation and IOGC
  • Travel lanes on access RW will be kept to the minimal width necessary to safely accommodate traffic.
  • Production tear-drop limited to the central portion of the lease.
  • Slash and mulch will be spread onto unused portions of the lease. A native seed mix compatible with surrounding vegetation will be used where required to minimize weed growth.
Loss or alteration of the vegetation communities during construction of the access and lease.
  • The site will be returned to pre-site conditions upon abandonment, by using slash and mulch to aid in soil stabilization and providing native seed materials.
  • Over time the sites and access roads will return to pre-disturbance conditions.
No residual effect anticipated – as areas to be reclaimed to pre-disturbance conditions.

A brief discussion of the information requirements for the different headings of Table F are provided below.

Table F Heading - Potential Impacts

Potential impacts are to be clearly stated for EACH phase of the project as they are described in Appendix 1 of the ERF. Note that impacts that originate from a project on a Reserve and extend to locations beyond the Reserve boundaries, or are only manifested at such locations, must also be described.

Table F Heading - Relative Significance

The relative significance of environmental effects on each of the environmental components should be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Nature/direction of effect - positive or negative or direct or indirect effect;
  • Magnitude – the typical effects of the impact (low, medium, or high impact) on the environment/community;
  • Spatial extent – area or volume covered (immediate, local or regional area);
  • Timing – construction, operation, monitoring, decommissioning, abandonment and final reclamation;
  • Duration of impacts – short term, long term, intermittent, continuous;
  • Reversibility/irreversibility – an estimate of whether or not an effect, once it has been stopped, can return to its pre-existing situation; and
  • Likelihood of occurrence without mitigation – an estimate of whether the effect is likely to occur if mitigation options are not implemented (likely, not likely).
Table F Heading - Mitigation Measures

Once impacts and their significance have been determined, present mitigation measures for EACH of them and for EACH applicable phase of the project as was identified in Appendix 1 of the ERF.

Provide a concise breakdown of the mitigation measures in manner that captures how they achieve the following:

  • Eliminate the threat/risk to VECs completely (alternate approaches, different chemicals and materials used, etc.);
  • Prevent/reduce impacts of the threat/risk to VECs (berms, training, pollution prevention equipment/technology, etc.); and
  • Respond to threat/risks to VECs when it occurs (emergency response, clean up, etc.).

If additional monitoring is recommended as a mitigation strategy, e.g., during construction activities to identify potential species at risk, this information can also be included here.

Where mitigation measures include the implementation of specific procedures or plans, append them to the ERF.

Table F Heading - Residual Effects

Table G below, defines the level of residual effects and can be used as a reference.

Table G: Level of Residual Effects Definitions
Level DefinitionFootnote 11
High Potential effect could threaten sustainability of the resource and should be considered a management concern. Research, monitoring and/or recovery initiatives should be considered.
Medium Potential effect could result in a decline in resource to lower than baseline but stable levels in the study area after project closure and into the foreseeable future. Regional management actions such as research, monitoring and/or recovery initiatives may be required.
Low Potential effect may result in a slight decline in resource in study area during the life of the project. Research, monitoring and/or recovery initiatives would not normally be required.
Minimal Potential effect may result in a slight decline in resource in study area during construction phase, but the resource should return to baseline levels.

Appendix 3 Resident Consultation Summary Table

See sample template provided below.

Table H: Example of Resident Consultation Summary Table
Residence Distance to Surface Disposition Date Issues/ Concernsa If no issues/concerns are identified note 'no concerns'. Follow-up Actions/ Commitmentsb Outline follow-up actions or commitments made by Applicant or others to address concerns. Residual Concernsc Indicate whether there are any residual concerns and provide justification if concerns could not be addressed.
a If no issues/concerns are identified note 'no concerns'.
b Outline follow-up actions or commitments made by Applicant or others to address concerns.
c Indicate whether there are any residual concerns and provide justification if concerns could not be addressed.
483 m S March 15, 2011 Traffic volume and safety
  • Applicant will install four 50 km/hour speed limit signs
    along access route.
  • Traffic activity will be restricted to between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm
350 m SE March 30, 2011 Concern if future oil and gas programs will overlap traditional berry picking areas
  • Current project does not overlap traditional berry picking areas as confirmed by the Oil and Gas Representative.
415 m N March 31, 2011 Noise concerns
  • Applicant will use 'stealth' shacks to minimize noise.
  • Applicant will monitor noise emissions and ensure project meets ERCB Noise Directive 38.

Appendix 4 Soil Evaluation

The table below outlines the information required to complete a soil evaluation.

Table I: Soil Evaluation Table
Soil Classification
Soil Order  
Soil Great Group  
Soil Series  
Evidence of Disturbance?  
Physical Attributes
  Topsoil Subsoil
Top-soil Depth   N/A
Surface Stoniness   N/A
Coarse-Fragment Content   N/A
Rooting Restrictions    

Appendix 5 Potential Species at Risk Within the Proposed Project Area Table

Use the table below to organize and present Species at Risk information. See section 8.0 E7, of the guide for a discussion on the specific information requirements.

Table J: Potential Species at Risk within Proposed Project Area
Common name/ Scientific name Regulatory Authority Species Classification Habitat Potential Occurrence within the Project Area Federal/ Provincial/ Territorial
Setback and Timing Restrictions
Level of Risk
(Low, Moderate, High)
Sprague's pipit/ Anthus spragueii Wildlife Act, SARA/ COSEWIC Threatened Native Grassland of intermediate height and density with light to moderate grazing or where fires periodically remove vegetation
Ground nester
Low to moderate – Species not documented in the project area (not observed during Site Assessment conducted on June 5, 2010) but is documented as potentially occurring within the surrounding regions based on presence of habitat. Suitable habitat may be present in the Project Area. 350 m from nest;
May 1 – August 31
Moderate No mitigation proposed as species was not observed in the Project Area.

Appendix 6 Additional Mitigation Measures

Use this section to:

  1. Provide greater detail on the proposed mitigation as required; or
  2. Discuss any unique or non-standard mitigation methods that are being proposed. Examples would be the employment of new technologies for erosion control, spill management, or wetland compensation, etc.

Appendix 7 Survey Plan

The survey plan must be prepared according to Canada Land Surveyors Regulations (CLSR). These requirements can be found on Natural Resource Canada's website.

The survey plan must show:

  1. Residences, buildings and water wells within 500 m;
  2. Access road location and size (width and length); and,
  3. Distance to water bodies including seasonal wetlands and muskeg.

The plan must also indicate if existing features are being used as part of the project, e.g., trails, approaches, gates, etc. This will alleviate the requirement for a Band Council Resolution if such facilities are left in place upon the project's completion and reclamation.

For complete information on survey requirements, refer to IOGC's website or contact the Lease Administration Unit of Indian Oil and Gas Canada.


Surface agreement assignments or the final surrender of a surface agreement after a project has completed its life cycle, is often delayed due to incomplete surveys. Ensure your Surveyor is a certified Land Surveyor and familiar with all of the requirements for oil and gas surveys on First Nation reserve lands.

Appendix 8 Aerial Photos and Maps

A regional map at 1:50,000 scale for small projects and at 1: 250,000 scale for large projects is to be located here. Show all locations of the projects components and Reserve boundaries.

For a project with multiple sites, provide a separate map for each site location. One overall map showing all the sites and project components together, e.g., surface leases, RWs, seismic, etc, is also required. Also provide an aerial photo mosaic at 1:20,000 or 1:30,000 scale for each project component – the mosaic can include several project components depending on their proximity to one another.

For seismic programs, clearly identify:

  • Proposed access;
  • Type and location of water body (e.g. stream) crossings;
  • Where DFO operational statements apply and indicate which operational statement applies;
  • Use of existing lines versus proposed new lines;
  • Campsite, helicopter pads, staging areas, etc; and
  • Known detours.

Appendix 9 Site Diagram(s)

Information on maps and diagrams to include:

  • Distance scales;
  • "North" orientation arrow;
  • Legal Land Description grid;
  • Topological features , including terrain variations;
  • Water bodies/features;
  • Soil sampling locations;
  • Vegetation including weeds, rare plants and/or species at risk;
  • Wildlife features e.g., burrows and nests;
  • Land use features and activities;
  • Residences; Distances from the proposed activity e.g., well centre or lease boundary;
  • Proposed activity e.g., well centre or lease boundary;
  • Study area boundaries, including project area, regional area, etc.;
  • Temporary workspace e.g., log decks, temporary crew camps, etc.; and,
  • Location and direction of site photographs;
  • Other features of importance such as water wells, other oil and gas activity, etc.

Each feature to be clearly labeled either on the drawing or in the legend.


Should cultural, traditional use, archaeological, or environmentally sensitive sites be identified, a sketch of the general area may be identified and presented here. This can then be used to establish setbacks and protect the area from development.

Appendix 10 Site Photographs

Include captioned colour photographs of each location or line, along with features of importance such as coulees, water features, etc. Also provide the location and direction of the photographs, and indicate such on a map or diagram. These photographs are essential to IOGC's understanding of the existing conditions and characteristics of the project area before construction.

Appendix 11 Pre-construction Water Well Testing

See Section 8.0, E4 of this Guide for instructions. The table below provides a template for any water well exceedances.

Table K: Well Water Exceedance Template

First Nation Resident Notification of Exceedance of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality




Re: Results of water sampling conducted on behalf of: ___________________

The results of water sampling conducted on your well indicate the following parameters exceed the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ):

Parameter Result GCDWQ Standard Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC)

A copy of this letter has been sent to the Environment Team of Indian Oil and Gas Canada, and the Regional office of Health Canada Indian and Inuit Health Services. Any parameter exceedance noted above should be discussed with your local Health Office.

Further information on the proper operation and maintenance of water wells is available from the Alberta Government publication: "Water Wells that Last for Generations".


Mailing Addresses

Indian Oil and Gas Canada
IOGC C/O Environment Unit
100, 9911 Chiila Blvd Tsuu T'ina AB
T2W 6H6

Health Canada
Northern Region
Regional Director, Operations
Health Canada Northern Region
60 Queen St., Suite 1400
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K9

Pacific Region
Regional Director
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
Federal Building, Suite 540
757 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6C 3E6

Alberta Region
Regional Director
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
9700 Jasper Avenue, Suite 730
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 4C3

Saskatchewan Region
Regional Director
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
2045 Broad Street, 5th Floor
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 3T7

Manitoba Region
Regional Director
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
391 York Avenue, Suite 300
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 4W1

Appendix 12 Correspondence/Permits from Other Federal Departments

The Applicant is to attach correspondence, permits or authorizations provided by regulatory agencies other than IOGC, in this section. For example, if setback and timing restrictions cannot be adhered to or if the project is within critical habitat, a permit from Environment Canada will be required for the project to proceed.

Appendix 13 Pre-Development Surveys or Third-Party Reports

This can include any assessments or reports that are not a standard requirement of the ERF. An example is an archaeological report, a rare plant survey, and/or a wildlife survey.

Appendix 14 Additional Information

Additional, reports, discussion, and other relevant information can be placed here.

Section H. Presentation of the Environmental Review

The ERF must be signed and dated by both the Applicant and the environmental professional who carried out the site assessment(s). Complete the contact information for both parties. Also provide the date(s) that the site assessments were conducted.


IOGC and the First Nation must be informed in writing of any substantive changes to the project that occur after the signature date.

Confirm that a copy of the ERF has been forwarded to the First Nation Chief and Council care of the Oil and Gas Representative.

Section I. Decision

IOGC completes this section. For additional background, see Section 4.0 of this Guide.

Date modified: