About Oil Sands Tenure

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.

For potential developers and producers that are new to the development of oil sands in Alberta, the Introduction to Oil Sands Regulatory ProcessesPDF iconoutlines the regulatory processes that are involved to acquire an agreement from the Crown, start the development process and follow the agreement to the payment of crown royalties, more detailed information 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 Actexternal link icon. 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:

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

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

The two common methods to acquire oil sands agreements are by way of: Public Offerings or Direct

The rights to the lands developed are leased through Public Offerings, commonly referred to as Land
Sales. The Public Offerings schedule is published two years in advance by Alberta Energy so that
potential bidders may strategize accordingly. Sales of oil sands rights are initiated by posting requests
submitted by companies or individuals through Electronic Transfer System (ETS). If no rights have been requested, there is no need to hold a sale. Companies or individuals who wish to acquire undisposed oil sands rights request a posting for a specific sale date to the Crown through ETS. 

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