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The following questions and answers are intended to supplement information on our website about the Debtor Registry. If your question is not answered here, please contact our Customer Contact Centre.

Question: What is a lien and when does it occur?
Answer: There are many different types of lien, but a lien broadly refers to the right of a creditor to retain property or interests of the debtor until the debt has been satisfied. Under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (OGCA), our lien takes effect when a debtor fails to pay levies or certain other amounts as they become due.

Question: What is a notice of lien?
Answer: A notice of statutory lien is normally sent to debtors following the nonpayment of a levy by the deadline specified in prior notices. It notifies the company of our lien and provides steps the company can take to get into compliance before we take further remedial action.

In most cases, we provide notice to the company that it has a lien in respect of the company’s debt on the company’s interest in any wells; facilities and pipelines; land or interests in land, including mines and minerals; equipment; and petroleum substances. However, we do not have a statutory obligation to provide a notice of the lien, and in some cases we may not.

Question: What is a notice of garnishment? 
Answer: When we have information to suggest that a debtor is a working-interest participant in a third party’s well or other facility, a notice of garnishment is normally issued to that third party. This means that the third party must forward money to the AER that it owes to the debtor, to go towards the debt owing. Failure to comply with a notice of garnishment is an offence under the OGCA.

A company that has been identified as a payer and has received a notice of garnishment should consult its records and determine what, if any, amounts are owed to the debtor. If the payer owes funds to the debtor, these amounts should be promptly directed to us. If you are mailing a cheque or bank draft, attach a copy of the notice.

If you have identified that no funds are owed by your company (the payer) to the debtor, or you believe that your company has been incorrectly identified as a payer, submit all supporting documentation to

Question: What if a debt remains unpaid by the deadline indicated in a notice of statutory lien or notice of garnishment?
Answer: If a debtor has not paid its debt and if potential payers have not paid all or some of the debt, then we may pursue other remedial actions on a case-by-case basis, which may include issuing an order or naming individual directors, officers, or other persons in direct or indirect control of the regulated company under section 106 of the OGCA. We may also enforce our lien in court.

Question: Can I appeal the debt or the lien?
Answer: Appeal deadlines are indicated in initial notices and in bulletins announcing the levies. Appeals will not be considered after the appeal deadline.

Question: Does this lien have priority over other liens?
As stated in the OGCA, our statutory lien has priority over all other liens, charges, rights of set-off, mortgages, and other security interests.

Question: Are the notices of statutory lien, notices of garnishment, and the Debtor Registry tools included in Manual 013: Compliance and Enforcement Program?
Answer: These instruments do not fall within the scope of Manual 013 since a lien is not a fee, an administrative penalty, or an administrative sanction. The lien arises automatically upon the debtor’s failure to pay the outstanding amount when it is due. The notices of statutory lien, notices of garnishment, and the Debtor Registry simply provide notice of the existence of a lien and set out the associated obligations of the debtor.