The Government of Saskatchewan announced yesterday it will be amending The Surface Rights Acquisition and Compensation Act to help landowners deal with oil companies.

Specifically, these changes will aid in the recovery of any overdue surface lease compensation owed to them by oil and gas operators.

"These amendments will give the Surface Rights Board and the Ministry of Energy and Resources the tools they need to better protect landowners from unpaid leases," Energy and Resources Minister Jim Reiter said. "Our oil and gas industry and the citizens of the province all benefit from strong relationships between industry and landowners."

The amendments featured in the bill will: 

  • Amend the act to allow the Surface Rights Board of Arbitration to hear cases and issue compliance orders to oil and gas companies for payment owed to landowners.
  • Add an obligation in The Oil and Gas Conservation Act for operators to comply with an order for compensation issued by the board.
  • Give the Ministry of Energy and Resources the ability to suspend the licenses of delinquent operators if the board order is not complied with. 
  • Motivate licensees to keep current with their surface lease payments.
  • Establish power in the act to prescribe the maximum allowable compensation that can be awarded by the board for off-lease damages.
  • Introduce various housekeeping amendments to update and modernize the act.

In 2013-14 the government introduced similar legislation that would have aided landowners with the non-payment for surface right leases, allowing for the board to hear cases from landowners involving unpaid rentals, issue collection orders, and suspend right-to-entry if necessary.

In late December 2014, due to the sudden decline in oil prices, the bill was tabled.

The Ministry of Energy and Resources says they received positive feedback on the proposed amendments from numerous stakeholder groups including major oil and gas associations, agricultural organizations, and individual landowners. 

The Bill is expected to pass in Spring 2023.