About Oil Sands Tenure

Tenure refers to the system through which Crown-owned mineral rights, including oil sands rights, are leased and administered. About Tenure is an introduction to Oil Sands Tenure and provides important information about the tenure process and online services.

The term tenure describes the system through which Crown-owned mineral rights, including oil sands rights, are leased and administered. By facilitating the leasing of these rights, the tenure system makes it possible for individuals and companies to explore for and develop Alberta's mineral resources for the benefit of the citizens of the province.

The viability of Alberta's economy and its non-renewable resource industries depends on the orderly development of the province's oil, gas, oil sand and other mineral resources. It is important that both the people of Alberta and producers realize an acceptable return from the development of these resources. At the same time, non-renewable resources must be managed in a manner that considers the environment and promotes sustainable development.

How to Acquire Oil Sands Rights

The following is a general summary of the necessary steps towards acquiring oil sands rights. More detailed guidelines can be found in the Oil Sands Tenure Guidelines.

In order to acquire oil sands rights, a corporation must be registered to conduct business in the Province of Alberta and comply with Section 23 of the Mines and Minerals Act. Crown-owned oil sands rights are disposed by means of agreements under Section 16 of the Mines and Minerals Act. Oil sands agreements convey the right to “drill for, win, work, recover and remove” oil sands that are owned by the Crown.

There are two types of Oil Sands agreements:

  1. Permits that are issued for a term of 5 years.

  2. Leases that are issued for a term of 15 years.

There are two ways to acquire an Oil Sands agreement:

  1. By way of a registered transfer (that is, to buy into an existing agreement). The Department does not participate in the negotiations between the lease holders and the interested buyer. The transfer can either convey the entire agreement or just a specified interest. Contact: Manager of Sales & Registrations – David Wheeler 780-644-3619 or David.Wheeler@gov.ab.ca.

  2. By way of public sale. To acquire by public sale, the interested stakeholder must meet the following criteria:

    • Be an active Tenure client (obtain a unique client identifier from the Department).

    • Have an Electronic Transfer System (ETS) account. Contact: Crown Land Data – 780 422-1395 or CrownLandDataSupport@gov.ab.ca.

    • Have an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) account. Contact: Manager of Sales & Registrations – David Wheeler 780-644-3619.

    • Provide a GST registration number to the Department or be liable to pay the Goods and Services Tax. Contact: Yasmin Suleman - Business Analyst, Financial Services, 780-422-5860.

Note: All sale parcels are published here, eight weeks prior to the date of the sale.


Three electronic mailing list services are offered, one of which is Oil Sands. Public Offering Notices, Results, and Changes are distributed to subscribed users via email. There is no charge for subscribing to this service.


Annual rental payments for Oil Sands agreements must be arranged via the Monthly Statement Process.


Alberta Surface Public Land are contained within the Geographic Land Information Management and Planning System (GLIMPS). Crown Mineral dispositions and activities are contained within the Alberta Mineral Information (AMI)Searching of this data is essential to the management of agreements that cover publicly owned resources.


The Electronic Transfer System (ETS) provides secure access to do business electronically with the Department of Energy.

Maps required for the tenure process are provided by Oil Sands Maps.

DRRZD Legend and Map Directory
Deeper rights reversion zone designation (DRRZD) identifies a zone by its name. As noted in ERCB (now known as the AER, Alberta Energy Regulator) Decision 95-10, historically the name of the zone identified within type wells takes precedence over the depths identified in terms of utilizing a DRRZD.

Go to DRRZD Legend and Map Directory

Queries may be directed to Oil Sands Tenure