FOR RURAL LAND OWNERS
Some Ugly Truths About "Easy Money"
gas, and mining companies may own mineral rights beneath the
surface of land owned or leased by other people. The subsurface
mineral rights owner has the right to explore and exploit their
subsurface holdings. That right is balanced by the land owner's
or lease holder's right to the use and quiet enjoyment of their
property; these are known as "Surface Rights".
Where these rights overlap, the two parties must come to some agreement concerning
the intrusion by the mineral rights holder onto the land
surface. The landholder often loses the use of a portion of his
landholding, and loses income derived from that land.
There is also general disturbance to the landholders operations,
dust, noise, and many other tribulations. The mineral rights
holder is expected to pay for the loss of income and compensate
for the disturbance for as long as the conditions exist.
A number of surface rights organizations (with websites) have
appeared and disappeared over the past 30 years. Government websites
have also evaporated so easy access to information on your
rights is difficult to locate.
Use your favourite search engine to find what is currently
The author of this
webpage is not a Lawyer nor a Land Agent. The opinions expressed
are based on 45 years as a rural land owner dealing with Land
Agents representing oil and gas, pipeline, seismic, and utility
companies. My experiences may not reflect accurately the
pertinent Laws and
Regulations in any particular jurisdiction. No warranty is
expressed or implied. This
information is presented as examples only and we accept no
responsibility for consequential loss or damages that may arise
from using the information on this webpage. You use this material at your sole risk and
responsibility. If you notice an error in facts, let me
WANTS TO RUIN YOUR LIFESTYLE ?
If a well is to be drilled or a facility or pipeline built near your residence, deeded land, or
leased land, you should receive a "Notice to Occupant" briefly
describing the proposal. Who is entitled to receive these
Notices varies with the type of facility, your distance from it,
and the particular regulations of your jurisdiction. Stay in
touch with your neighbours -- they may receive a notice and you
Read this document carefully. It will always present the most
benign, least intrusive case, and this may not represent
reality. It may contain
information vital to your operation or lifestyle. It may also
contain numerous omissions and errors of fact. For example, I have received 5
Notices on a single facility across a 4 year period. Two of then
claimed there would be no flaring of wells (this was a
compressor application, no wells were ever contemplated) but
failed to mention the flare stack for the facility. Two were for
doubling the compressor capacity but failed to mention the added
noise that such a facility would generate. When I complained to the contact
on the form, all I got was voice mail and he never returned my
call. There is no excuse for a careless or
misleading Notice to Occupant. Keep the oil company honest by a
critical review of all documents you receive and ASK QUESTIONS
if it doesn't compute.
have a right to enter land without compensation, but the
residents expect the common courtesy of an introduction,
explanation of the purpose of the survey, and who and what it is
for, including contact information.
This is the barn in which surveyor's staked a well location on
my ranch. There is no excuse for this level of ignorance.
A surveyor bombing unannounced across private land on an ATV without
permission is rude and dangerous - the bulls in my bull yard
thought so and I passed on their comments when I caught up with
Unfortunately, surveyors are trained to follow orders and to avoid
thinking about the world around them. Witness the surveyors who
staked a well center INSIDE my hay barn. Or the ones who staked
a Level 3 critical sour gas well 100 feet from my driveway, the
sole egress from my residence. Eventually, the oil company
president showed up to explain that he would have a helicopter
on stand-by to evacuate my family, my dogs? my cattle? in case
of an H2S leak or blowout - imagine a chopper pilot
descending through an H2S plume to rescue us! The surveyor's
then located the well center at the edge of an 80 foot cliff
- not a legal location and too small for a lease anyway.
Finally, they found a 4 acre flat spot far enough away to be
non-toxic. Three surveys, weeks of delay, expensive management
and technical time wasted, all because the surveyors did not
feed back the stupidity of the initial company requests. I'm not
making this up - it really happened!!
The moral of this long story is
that you DO NOT have to allow the lease to be placed where the
operator initially asks for it. With modern technology, they can
place the well almost anywhere and still reach their target.
Force the operator to consider your needs. If you don't take
part in this discussion, you will be stuck with the operator's
choice of location for half a century or more.
crews will arrange
for a Land Agent to negotiate a fee, usually based on mileage or
number of seismic shotholes to be drilled (if any). Specifics
about methods (dynamite or vibrators), helicopter usage, access routes,
vehicular traffic (or not), clearing, cleanup, reclamation of shotholes, reclamation of artesian shotholes and stream
crossings, timing (after harvest, after calving season), and
other concerns must be in writing. Land owners and lease holders are
not required to agree to a standard agreement unless it covers
ALL your concerns. Be sure to add your concerns to the standard agreement
In one case, I was asked if my cattle were afraid of
helicopters. I explained that it was only takeoff and landing
that bothered them, not the actual flight in the chopper. True
Since the land and its use are relatively
undisturbed, and the operation is short-lived, compensation is
not high unless there are serious damages.
Drilling Operations for oil and gas require a great
deal more effort during negotiation. The drilling operation will
take weeks or months. Drilling creates noise, odours, and
traffic, which in turn creates more noise, dust, and
interference. The well and its facilities will be on site for 25
to 50 years, and numerous workover events will take place over
the life of the well. There is also the risk of spills, leaks,
blowouts, and motor vehicle accidents for the life of the well.
The area needed for a well site is usually 4 to 5 acres plus use
of an existing or new access road.
it looks smooth and green, someone made it that
Guess where they want to place the wellsite.
right in the middle of that nice pasture.
If the mineral rights are owned by a government (provincial,
state, federal) the oil company must apply for a mineral surface
lease and pay the government a royalty on the value of the
production. The land owner or lease holder gets nothing from the
production, but will be compensated for the surface area used,
plus some other considerations. If the mineral rights are held
by the landowner or another third party, the oil company must
negotiate with that person as to royalties.
For the record, we have been
blown off our place twice because of sour gas releases from oil
wells- each a result of human error or faulty equipment
assembly. Neither of the companies even admitted that the
incidents had occurred (I have photos) and the companies did not report them
to the regulators (I did), nor did they offer any compensation. We also put up with "non-toxic"
levels of H2S for over 3 months due to a poorly managed sour gas blowout
more than 50 miles away. And there was the rig fire that
blackened the snow (and my house) with soot for two miles in
all directions, and the floods, each time an oilfield access road
washed out, and the off-site sump that leaked toxic oil-based mud
into my creek for 26 years (still not reclaimed), and ..... well you
get the point.
For those who are not aware, H2S
(or sour gas) is hydrogen sulphide, a by-product of some oil and
gas production operations. H2S is heavier than air and sinks
into valleys and low areas, unless blown away by wind. H2S
smells awful and if you can smell it, leave the area
immediately. If the smell goes away, either the problem has been
fixed or you are about to die! The occupational exposure limit
is 20 parts per million for 15 minutes, then you go home for 48
hours to recuperate; 200 parts per million will knock you
unconscious, and 700 parts per million is immediate death. The
residential exposure limit for H2S is supposed to be ZERO - that
is, no H2S is allowed to go beyond the lease boundary. Good luck
on that one.
To reduce risks from H2S, the gas is supposed to be captured and
pipelined to a processing plant. Where this is uneconomic, H2S
will be flared (burned), creating sulphur dioxide (SO2) and
water vapour. SO2 is less dangerous than H2S but still smells
bad and has long term detrimental effects on the respiratory
system of humans, cattle, and wildlife. Other by-products, such
as benzene, are relatively odourless, but can still make you
sick after sufficient exposure. The only cure is for the oil
company to capture all gases and put them into a pipeline.
Naturally, they will resist doing this unless extreme pressure
is brought to bear upon them. Their
motto is "The solution to pollution is dilution", hoping that
the wind or rain will carry the problem away.
and Gas Processing
Facilities also need a surface
lease similar to that needed for a wellsite. But wellsites are
pretty quiet compared to a compressor. Three 1600 horsepower
compressors will sound like a jumbo-jet during takeoff, all day,
all night, every day, all year long. If you are within a mile of this, you will notice,
within 500 feet, you will go stark raving mad. A "Noise Impact
Assessment" (NIA) will be needed before construction and
levels must be below specific limits. If there are other noise
sources nearby, an NIA for the combined facilities is required.
may be cooked to keep
the predicted levels below these limits and always represent the
most optimistic weather and ground conditions. It will always be
noisier than predicted, especially under adverse weather
conditions. See MORE
at the end of this page.
After the fact remediation is expensive
and slow to arrive. It took me three years of constant
harassment to get the compressor next door to my ranch tuned up
enough to meet regulations. Be forewarned.
Pipeline rights of way, like powerlines, are placed on an easement that restricts building
close to the line. The setback will vary with the size and type
of fluid pushed through the line. Since the line is buried, the
surface use, except as to buildings, will return a few years
after laying the line. Compensation is based on that loss of use
and some for general disturbance during construction. The actual
reclamation after construction is problematic - many farmers and
ranchers have had serious concerns trying to obtain compensation
for poorly reclaimed land.
Sour gas and high vapour pressure
lines have fairly large Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ) that can
extend well beyond the pipeline setback distance. These will
reduce the value of your property and limit where you can build.
Plan ahead for future development.
LEASE and PIPELINE LOCATION
discussing compensation with a Land Agent, first negotiate the
location of the proposed operation. If you discuss compensation
first, you have tacitly agreed to the oil company's location and
the compensation is related to that specific location. Be sure
the location is suitable to your operation and as far from your
residence as possible. With current technology, an operator can
reach its target from anywhere on a given quarter section.
This rule also applies to
"Consent of Occupant" agreements for wellsite or facilities on
adjacent lands, but within a short distance where consent of
occupant is required. I got caught sleeping on this once, when
the Land Agent told me that the compressor would be built on the
south west corner of the lease. This was not put in writing. The
compressor was built on the northeast corner, as close to my
residence as was possible. It took three years to get the noise
level below regulatory limits, and I can still hear the roar in
the early morning and early evening. Verbal promises are
Before agreeing to compensation, be sure the survey plan is
attached to the agreement and corresponds to what you think you are agreeing to.
If there is no survey plan DO NOT SIGN anything. If the company
refuses to provide a survey plan, go immediately to a Right of
Entry Hearing, where a survey plan is required by law.
many good reasons for a landowner to require a Right of Entry
Order instead of a private agreement with an oil company. They
are easier to find, easier to enforce, easier to arbitrate, and
easier to modify than private agreements.
SURFACE LEASE and PIPELINE COMPENSATION
oil company drilling on privately owned or leased land needs to
negotiate a surface lease agreement with the land owner or
lease holder. The compensation is based on an upfront payment and an
annual fee until the wellsite is properly abandoned and
reclaimed to the satisfaction of the appropriate government
agencies. The table below itemized the specific items that need
to be negotiated. However, keep in mind that it is the total
compensation package that matters in the end. Dollar values
shown below are 2010 averages.
The sum of Items 1 through 6 is
to be paid at the time of signing the surface lease agreement
with the energy company and covers the first year of operations. No machinery
moves on the lease until the cheques clears the bank.
The annual compensation, sometimes called the "annual rent", is the sum
of items 4 and 5. This amount should arrive automatically 20 to
30 days before the anniversary date of the lease agreement. If
the payment doesn't arrive on time, raise hell with the surface
land administrator in the oil company. If a company goes
bankrupt, your lease compensation goes on the Receiver's list of
debt's owing, and you may get nothing for a while. When a new
company takes over the lease, you may get paid immediately or
you may want to negotiate a whole new agreement.
EXAMPLE: 4 acre lease plus 1 acre access road, total 5 acres
1. Entry Fee $500 per
acre times 5 acres = $ 2500
2. Land Value $3600 per acre times 5 acres
3. General Disturbance
= $ 4000
4. Loss of Use $500 per acre times 5
acres = $ 2500
5. Adverse Effect
= $ 4000
TOTAL 1st year compensation
= $41000 including Entry Fee
ANNUAL COMPENSATION: Sum of items 4 and 5 = $ 6500 per year
For a pipeline right-of-way, only items 1 and 5 are usually
paid, but damages may be claimed against the company.
Damages may be paid if demonstrated, for example damaged roads
or fences, culverts, cattle guards, lost cattle, or failure to properly renovate and
reseed a lease, right of way, or temporary workspace to the satisfaction of the land owner.
Alberta 2009 Sample Data Sets and
Alberta Ag once provided online
maps for the components of lease and pipeline agreements. Their
purpose was to provide price transparency for
rural land owners to aid them in negotiating a fair deal. The webpages are no longer
active but are listed here to show what used to be available.
One can only speculate as to why the maps disappeared.
Obsolete Links to maps of Alberta showing:
land value for surface lease per
land value for pipeline right of
general disturbance payments paid per well site
loss of use payments paid
effect payments paid per well site)
Price transparency, suggested by
the publication of the above links, was a bit of fiction anyway. The data used
in the maps was
from a database developed by W. H. Marriott
and Associates for use by Land Agents through subscription. The
database is no longer visible on the Internet. Posting of prices
was voluntary. Self-interest on the part of individual Land
Agents would reduce the likelihood of posting freely negotiated high
values. No new data have been published since the 2009
data went missing,
except in SRB Orders in Alberta and BC.
Sample listing from the Marriott database. Land Agents have
access to this kind of data -- landowners do not.
Canadian Association of Landmen (CAPL) published two articles
in their magazine (May and October 2010) about the Marriott
articles indicated that CAPL members were in favour of such a
database as it "would lower the prices paid for compensation" and
reduce costs to the oil companies.
Do CAPL members still share compensation values paid to
landowners? If so, is that a breach of privacy laws? Or a
breach of the Canada Competition Act?
Land Agents have access to
large in-house data sets of compensation values paid out over
the years, plus word-of-mouth knowledge via personal networking
that land owners do not have access to. Land Agents do not
show "comparables" to the landowners, like real estate agents do.
It is a very one-sided negotiation. Land Agents are not above
stretching the truth, although their Code of Ethics suggests
that they shouldn't do this. I know my compensation agreements
have been discussed among Land Agents working for different
companies - this is a breach of privacy since no one has the
right to discuss my private financial affairs with anyone,
To find some compensation awards by the various provincial
Surface Rights Boards, Google "Surface Rights" "Compensation"
"Comparables", and see what you get.
FIVE YEAR REVIEWS
Some jurisdictions provide for an automatic review of the
"annual rent" every 3 or 5 years. If this is not a regulatory
feature where you live, put the review into the agreement. Think
of what a dollar could purchase 25 years ago !
In many cases, oil and gas companies fail to give the required
notice or give notice claiming that no change in compensation is
warranted. Since inflation of agricultural costs increases by 4
or 5% per year, this statement is clearly untrue. The landowner can request the review and if the
company does not respond appropriately, the landowner can apply
to the Surface Rights Board for a review, and it will force the
company to attend and respond. While the 5 year review is mandatory in Alberta and BC (3
years in SK), there is no penalty for non-compliance, so it is
up to land owners to force the issue.
One of my
agreements was dated June 1981, so it should have been reviewed
before June 2011. The oil company, for reasons unknown, claimed it was dated
November 1979 so no review was needed until the end of 2014,
even though they gave notice of the review in November 2013.
After 9 months of non-response to my emails, I threatened to
apply to the Surface Rights Board to correct the date of the
agreement and to update a 35 year old compensation package.
Amazing attitude adjustment!! We had an agreement in 24 hours, a cheque in 3 days,
retroactive to 2011, but no apology for their arrogant attitude
or the effort needed to get them on track.
DEALING WITH A LAND AGENT
surface lease or pipeline right of way is an encumbrance on your
land and affects its value forever. Some people think oil field
revenue enhances a property's resale value because of the cash
flow it represents. This value is offset by the odors, noise,
dust, traffic, loss of use, and adverse effect of the lease. The
cash may look good now, but even with compensation reviews every
5 years, that cash flow won't be enough 20 years down the road,
especially if you want to subdivide or build new structures or
change the primary use of the land. And you pay tax on all the
compensation, including the upfront cash.
Land Agents, often called Landmen regardless of gender, come in
many flavours, from the "Nice Boy Next Door" to "The Cowboy",
from the "Farmer Charmer" to "That Arrogant Bastard". Most field
agents are male; many surface land administrators in the office
are female. They work for, or are contracted agents for, the energy
company. THEY DO NOT
work for you ! They are your adversary and don't forget it.
Land Agents understand the agreements, surface land regulations,
and negotiating tactics better than most farmers and ranchers.
They appear to be in a position of power and can be
You know your land, your operation, and your long tern goals far
better than the Land Agent. So you are equal but different.
The Land Agent will try to take charge of any meetings, and will
do his best to make you feel inferior. Be assertive, polite, and
state your case clearly. Take notes of what you said and what
the response was. Prepare for the meeting and research
costs and values in advance. Check out comparables as well as
you can via the internet and neighbours.
Most Land Agents believe they are working in the best interests
of both parties, and believe they are behaving in an ethical
manner. This is not really true - they have a boss and he has a
boss .... And they do "shade the truth", hide the
truth, make promises they can't keep,
and can easily misrepresent your negotiating position to their
employer. Many Land Agents are independent contractors paid by
the oil company to negotiate with you. They will not be hired
again if they do not follow orders, so don't expect too much
from a "hired gun". He often has no authority to change the
terms he was instructed to obtain. Land Agents who are employees
of the oil company are no better - their annual review, raises,
and bonuses will depend on how well they followed the "company
A serious breach of ethics or privacy can be reported
to the Land Agent licensing agency (if one exists in your
jurisdiction), or to a Land Agents Association, or directly to
the Land Agent's boss. If you have a legitimate and serious
complaint, notify everyone in sight.
Document all your meetings, what was discussed, time spent, and
especially discrepancies in proposals between visits. These
notes will be helpful if a dispute arises before the agreement
is signed. You are entitled to be paid for your time. At a
Hearing, you could be awarded $50 per hour for your preparation and
research time. If you use a lawyer or representative or appraiser you might get some or all of their time covered, but
the time has to be very closely linked to the negotiation and
not on side issues.
This is what you are trying to protect.
Take the time
to do it right.
The Land Agent will present an agreement
drafted by company
lawyers and will offer the lowest compensation that he thinks
might fly. DO NOT SIGN THIS DOCUMENT. It will not contain
all the terms and conditions you need to protect yourself and
your land. READ the links below:
Standard Surface Lease
You will need time to assess the terms of the agreement and the
amount of the compensation. Take that time. Talk about the 5
components of the compensation separately - never accept the
first offer without a serious review of each component and the
overall compensation. They may have been a bit generous on one
item and a bit stingy on another - keep a balanced view.
sure all the special terms you need are included in the final
draft, either in the body of the Agreement or as an Addendum. If
it is as an Addendum, the body of the Agreement must refer to
the Addendum and both the Agreement and the Addendum will need
to be signed by both parties. See the links immediately above
for possible clauses that you need to add, or add them all -
none of them will hurt you and may come in handy later.
If the Land Agent arrives without appointment, you may be busy
harvesting, planting, calving, or whatever - tell him to come
back at a more convenient time. If the Agent does not leave when
asked, he is trespassing and can be removed from your land by
the police. Don't use force yourself - dial 911 and watch him
When convenient to your schedule, review the text of the
agreement, and the survey plan for road and lease layout. You
can do this with or without the Land Agent present. See how the
plan interferes with your operation, drainage, land/crop
quality, and proximity to residences and other buildings.
Request changes that make your situation better. For example, a
lease in the middle of your best pasture is inconvenient and
could be pushed to a bushy, rocky area close to the edge of the
property. The Land Agent does not have the authority to say "No"
without first discussing the changes with his boss.
You are being paid for the pipeline right of way or the surface
lease area specified on the survey plan, but there may be setback distances that prevent certain
activities some distance beyond these boundaries. This will
"sterilize" a large area of land and prevent building or
subdivision near the encumbrance, so think carefully about
future possibilities for your land. Although a lease may be
entirely on your land, the setback requirements may overlap onto
your neighbours land, causing him some possible financial loss
that cannot be compensated. Always check the setback distances
before you think you have a deal.
The only pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is your land.
It is your land and lifestyle - protect it.
Always have the agreement reviewed by your own lawyer. That
might cost $400 but the original agreement will be very
one-sided. Get every concern of yours embedded in the final
agreement. If your requests are reasonable, the company has no
reason to refuse them. Such requests might include location and
locking of gates, quality and specifications for fences and
gates, grading and plowing of roads, seed quality, species,
weed control, berms for pollution control, and much more.
Do not give away any rights to the land other than those needed
by the company for its specific operation. For example, the
company does not need the right to offer the use of an access
road to another company - only the land owner has that right.
And just because one company has paid for an access road, other
companies do not get to use it for free. The agreement should
not include construction of other facilities on the same site,
without further negotiation and payment.
Verbal promises are worthless - all the terms of the deal have
to be in writing, in plain unambiguous language and in one agreement. Check the final agreement
carefully - "accidental" errors of omission have been known to
occur. Initial every page as you read them before you sign. Be
sure the survey plan has not been "revised" without your
knowledge. If the agreement is taken away to be signed by the
company, check the copy you get back - make sure your initials
are on every page and that nothing has been added or deleted.
This agreement will probably last for most of your life or
beyond and will
be binding on whoever buys or inherits your land. The term of
the lease must run until the well is abandoned and the lease is
reclaimed to the satisfaction of government regulators and the
land owner. Energy companies often want shorter term leases but
you must insist on the "life of the well" approach.
With the 5 year review, required by Regulation or built into the
agreement, you are protected from inflation and changes in land
The well will likely change hands numerous times during its
lifetime so a satisfactory assignment clause is needed that
forces the new owner to notify you of their ownership. You do
not want the annual payments to stop because of paperwork
Negotiating both the terms and compensation is your
responsibility, but the negotiation can be undertaken by an
owner's agent or representative. This could be a lawyer, a neighbour with some
experience with lease agreements, a relative of the owner, or a
retired (and sympathetic) Land Agent. An owner's agent should
always confirm that the owner is satisfied with the agreement
before the owner signs.
No matter how friendly the Land Agent appears to be, he is not
there to give you the best deal possible without a fight. Each
time the Agent has to return to continue negotiation costs the
company money. You can use this to your advantage, up to a
point. Eventually, the company will insist that you
agree or will threaten to go to a "Right of Entry" hearing. They
may suggest an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approach
before this. Most ADRs are not binding on either party and may
be a waste of time, but the Right of Entry
is binding on both parties. On a Right of Entry Order, legal
costs and personal time spent can be awarded against the oil
company. Appeals to a higher
Court are possible but expensive if you lose. Most judges are
pretty ignorant about the realities of farming, ranching, and
oil field operations so you probably don't want to go here.
So at some point, you will have an agreement. Be sure it is the
best agreement you can obtain. Then be sure the company lives up
to every obligation that has been agreed to. Keep a copy of the
agreement with your other important papers so you or your loved
ones can find it easily.
Sign at a property near Grande Prairie, Alberta, reprinted
from CAPL Course Notes.
CAPL thinks it's funny!
IMPACT ASSESSMENTS (NIA)
A Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) will be needed before
construction of compressor sites and other permanent noise
sources. Predicted sound levels must be below specific limits.
If there are other noise sources nearby, an NIA for the combined
facilities is required. NIAs may easily be "cooked" to keep the
predicted levels below these limits and always represent the
most optimistic weather and ground conditions. The facility will
usually be noisier than predicted, especially under adverse
Noise Impact Assessments are public documents in most
jurisdictions. You have the right to read it and comment or
ask questions concerning its contents.
Noise Impact Assessments in Alberta are governed by
AER Directive 038. It covers
general requirements for short term noise, such as drilling
operations, and long term noise such as compressor sites and gas
plants. The regulations dictate how the facility noise level is
to be added to the assumed ambient background sound level. This
sum cannot exceed 50 dB in daytime and 40 dB nighttime at a
distance of 1500 meters.
Some of the required environmental conditions specified in the
Alberta regulations are routinely ignored by both the regulator
and the oil company operator, in particular those dealing with
cold weather, temperature inversion, combining multiple noise sources, and
extremes in weather conditions.
For example, AER D038 specifies in Paragraph 3.1 that a 5 dB
"safety margin" be made to account for adverse conditions. This
effectively reduce allowable noise levels by 5 dB, since
the NIA is performed using conditions that minimize
predicted noise levels. However, this requirement is routinely
ignored and no allowance is made for adverse conditions. In the
four NIAs I have reviewed on a nearby facility, all predicted
noise levels were above the allowable when the 5 dB safety
margin was used. My objection was refused on the grounds that
"the predicted noise level is well below the required value",
even though it was not. So much for truth and fair play.
The regulations require that the maximum allowable limit not be
exceeded at a radius of 1500 meters from the noise source.
However, if there are no residences affected by the noise, no
one is allowed to file a complaint even if the facility is well
above the legal limit. D038 claims there is no evidence that
noise affects wildlife. This is nonsense, if you were a bird who
couldn't hear a mating call, or a deer who couldn't hear a wolf
or coyote sneaking up, how long would you survive?
My advice: If you can hear it over other background noise, file
a written complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency and
with the President or CEO of the oil company. Send it by
Registered Mail - that gives proof of delivery. I know, "Nothing will happen". But if enough
complaints are received, over time there may be a sea-change and
common sense will prevail. If we don't speak up, I guarantee
nothing will change.
There are two calculations that you might want to do yourself if
you receive notice of a facility expansion or receive an NIA for
a facility near you.
this if you have an NIA with a predicted noise level at a
specified distance from the source. Enter the Distance (r1) and
noise level at that distance (L1) into the shaded boxes. Enter
the distance to your residence from the nearest corner of the facility
(r2), then click "Calculate" button. In my case, the r1 distance
is 1500 meters, the L1 sound level is 38.0 dB (not including the
5 dB safety margin). My residence is 2490 meters (r2). This gives a
noise level at my house of 36.9 dB. This is the optimum case. If
5 dB is added for adverse conditions, the result is 41.9 dB at
my residence. What this means is that under optimum conditions,
I might not notice the compressor but under adverse conditions, I
will (and do).
The lower half of this calculator can be used to find the
distance that the facility would have to be located so as not to
impact your residence.
this to calculate the sum of several sound levels. Suppose you
receive notice that the oil company wants to double the capacity
of an existing facility and also add a 5 million BTU heater and
a 2750 HP refrigeration unit. The
original facility has a sound level of 36.2 dB at the 1500 meter
boundary. On the calculator, enter 36.2 dB in the box beside
Level 1, put 36.2 in the box for Level 2 (the second
compressor), and 34 dB for the heater and refrig unit in Level 3, then click the
"Calculate" button. The result is 40.4 dB, which is over the
legal limit of 40.0 dB, even without counting the 5 dB safety
margin. So some redesign or retrofit would be needed to be
E. R. (Ross) Crain, P.Eng.