Alberta landowners claim ownership of coalbed methane, says submitter

Dear Editor;

The United Landowners of Alberta (ULA) challenges the Alberta government’s ownership of Renewable Biogenic Gas (RBG) commonly referred to as coalbed methane. The organization claims the provincial government holds no ownership of Renewable Biogenic Gas and that all rights to the RBG belong to all landowners. The government has only been granted ownership of all resources as defined in terms of “mines or minerals” and therefore RBG falls outside of Crown ownership under the Law of Property Act and the Mines and Mineral Act, as there is no reference in legislation to the ownership of Renewable Biogenic Gas. The ULA concedes the Crown does have ownership of conventional oil and gas but has no right to claim ownership of renewable resources such as wind energy, solar energy, geothermic energy and biogenic gas. The ULA states that Renewable Biogenic Gas is formed as a result of an organic based process whereby RBG is created in real time by microorganisms throughout the subsurface. Therefore by very strict definition RBG cannot be a mineral.

The ULA will also be challenging the Energy Resources Conservation Board’s right to issue drilling licenses to oil and gas companies who do not have the landowner’s approval to develop the Renewable Biogenic Gas that is under the landowner’s subsurface ownership. The Alberta Surface Rights Board will be included in the action as the ULA further states the Board has no right to grant Right of Entry Orders which is giving oil and gas companies the right to subsurface trespass and the right to directional drill under an adjacent landowner’s subsurface.

The challenge of the Alberta government’s ownership of Renewable Biogenic Gas is strongly supported by scientific evidence and proven technical research that the ULA has been recently made aware of. The landowner’s ownership of RBG will have far reaching implications in the future as many previously developed CBM projects will come into play as petroleum and natural gas rights that the industry has acquired through the Crown have potentially been obtained illegally. It is expected that many landowners and industry will be applying to the courts for monetary compensation for monies paid to the Crown for royalties and the acquisition of shallow gas leases that contain RBG.

The future development of Renewable Biogenic Gas will be under the power and control of landowners who are the rightful owners of the Renewable Biogenic Gas, and industry will have to negotiate directly with the landowner. This will enable the landowner the option of developing the RBG or to simply refuse it if they decide the physical impact to their property or farming operation and their groundwater aquifer is too great. Industry will acquire rights or interest in the Renewable Biogenic Gas by negotiating directly with the landowner who is the rightful owner of the RBG.

The ownership issue of Renewable Biogenic Gas will apply to all landowners. The ULA will be conducting informational and membership meetings throughout the province. All landowners are encouraged to attend and join the organization in order to gain further information and assistance in their rightful claim of ownership of RBG. Information regarding upcoming meetings will be posted in the near future on the Alberta Surface Rights website (www.albertasurfacerights.ca) and numerous media outlets.

Karl Zajes

United Landowners of Alberta

Warburg, Alta.

For information of the next meeting of the ULA, please see the Community Calendar on page 2 of today’s Rimbey Review.