This paper describes a proactive public consultation process conducted for a sour gas development project on the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta. After substantial delays in obtaining regulatory approval to drill development wells containing up to 35 % hydrogen sulphide, Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd. participated in a formal, mediated consultation process involving affected stakeholders and regulatory agencies. The public perceptions of safety, land use conflicts and communication were significant issues desk with by the consultation process. In June of 1992 the Northeast Calgary Application Consultation Committee, which included community representatives and government agencies, forwarded reports to the Energy Resources Conservation Board approving the proposed wells and suggesting some modifications to the project design. The consultation process provided the opportunity to identify and address stakeholder issues before the final project design was submitted to regulatory agencies for consideration. Communication with the stakeholders was improved and an opportunity for ongoing dialogue with interested parties was identified.


In April of 1984 Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd. (Canadian Oxy) filed applications with the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) to drill gas wells on the outskirts of the City of Calgary to expedite depletion of the Calgary Crossfield reservoir. Initially, the production facilities were located well away from urban development. Due to urban growth during the prior three decades, however, by 1984 some residences were located within a few hundred feet of production facilities. Successive ERCB hearings were deferred pending the submission of additional information and the completion of a realistic worst case hazard assessment by an independent third party. The time between 1984 and 1991 was spent dealing with successive regulatory requirements. There was much media attention and many people became involved in the debate.

In 1991 a decision was made to conduct a multi-stakeholder public consultation program and to develop additional communication tools. A commitment was made that no formal well licence applications would be filed prior to the completion of the consultation process so that community recommendations could be included in the formal application.


Several sour gas pools underlay the eastern limits of the City of Calgary. Canadian Oxy operates two gas plants draining pools with over 3 tcf of original gas in place. These pools have been on continuous production since 1959. Gas remaining in place is estimated to be close to 1 tcf. Fig. 1 shows the location of gas fields in relation to the Calgary corporate limits.

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