Our Programs

The Institute is involved in a wide range of research projects. While resources law is the prime focus, the Institute undertakes research activities that involve other disciplines. The Institute sponsors conferences and courses on particular topical aspects of resources law. The Institute is active on the international resources scene, particularly through its relationship with the Section on Energy and Resources Law of the International Bar Association. The Institute hosts visiting scholars from time to time.

The Institute would like to thank the Alberta Law Foundation, Environment Canada and Cenovus for their ongoing support of our continuing legal education programs. Without their assistance the programs would not be possible.


The Institute engages in a wide variety of research projects on its own initiative and in response to requests from government and the private sector.

The Institute has completed studies in the following areas:

  • Mining law;
  • The application of environmental protection legislation to the forest sector;
  • Oil and gas law on Canadian lands; and
  • Water law.

Research is ongoing in the following areas:

  • Legal and policy issues in the areas of forestry;
  • Water resource management;
  • Petroleum sector;
  • Environmental regulation;
  • International trade; and
  • Mining.

While the Institute's mandate specifically targets resources law, it also participates in research projects involving disciplines other than law, and engages in such work through interdisciplinary study teams. The Institute also jointly engages research with other institutions.

Research projects are undertaken both by Institute's staff and by fellow experts at the University of Calgary and nationwide. Projects are funded through the Institute's own resources and by contracts with individual sponsors.


The Institute actively contributes to the resources law community by sponsoring conferences and brief courses. Workshops and seminars have been offered throughout Canada, and have dealt with numerous topics including:

  • Contract law for personnel in the energy sector;
  • Environmental law for practitioners;
  • Resource development and Aboriginal land rights;
  • Interjurisdictional water management;
  • Human rights and resource development in Alberta; and
  • Legal and regulatory approaches to integrated resource management.

Municipal Planning and Development Law

This course is about municipal planning and development law to help lawyers, planners, municipal administrators and professionals in other fields to understand the complexities of the current municipal policy and regulatory system. For example, municipal planning and development practice requires knowledge of the interconnectedness of many provincial policies, laws, regulations, codes of practice and best management practice (BMP) guidelines. Recent amendments to the Municipal Government Act have introduced new voluntary and mandatory institutional arrangements to manage growth, and through intermunicipal planning and collaboration to develop, maintain and fund intermunicipal services and facilities. These new provisions also require land use planning and development practices to comply with a number of provincial regional land use outcomes.

This course provides basic knowledge, along with how this knowledge might be applied in certain planning and development scenarios.

Introduction to Contract Law for Personnel in the Oil and Gas Industry

The course is designed for people working in the energy sector at all levels whose jobs require them to understand the basics of contract law. Course materials draw primarily upon Canadian cases involving the oil and gas industry. The course format is designed to illustrate and reinforce the concepts introduced by the instructor through the extensive use of group exercise sessions. Problems are tackled in a “hands on” fashion in break-out group sessions and then discussed in class.

The course provided an overview of the following selected basic legal concepts applicable to contracts.


CIRL has on-going relationships with scholars working on similar issues around the world - for example, in Australia, the U.S., Mexico, Western Europe and Russia. CIRL also works closely with people in non-governmental organizations, government and private industry on questions of mutual concern and interest. In addition to maintaining such contacts, the Institute has been actively engaged in work abroad and has been involved as a consultant on natural resources law and policy in a number of countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Fiji, Kyrgyzstan and the United States. By far the most significant international programs carried out by the Institute, however, are those within the Russian Federation, where the Institute has been active since 1992.

CIRL in Russia

In 1992 CIRL was asked to join a group of Canadian government agencies to consult with the Ministry of Energy (then, the Ministry of Fuel and Energy) of the Russian Federation on new legislation and administrative practices for the regulation of Russia's oil and gas resources. As a result of these consultations, CIRL was charged with the responsibility of organizing two series of seminars - on federalism and inter-governmental relations in the oil and gas sector and the other on the integration of environmental constraints and Aboriginal peoples' interests with government regulation of the oil and gas sector. During the years 1993-1996, these seminars were offered in the following places: Kaliningrad, Arkhangelsk, Naryan Mar, Ukhta, Moscow, Surgut, Noyabrsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, Izhevsk, and Djugba.

The next phase of CIRL's work in Russia (1997-2001) involved collaborative work on more analytical issues. Projects undertaken during these years addressed such issues as how to assess the economic viability of oil and gas projects in Russia, and whether it would be advantageous for Russia to allow companies broader rights to sell or trade state-issued licences. In the later years of this period, an analysis was made of the economic viability of developing the natural gas reserves on the western side of the Kamchatka peninsula. Activities during the years 1997-2001 took place in Arkhangelsk, Moscow, Perm, Gelendzhik, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and Syktyvkar, in the Komi Republic.

From 2000 to 2006, CIRL and the Ministry of Energy, together with another Canadian educational institution - the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology - carried out a joint project, consisting of a series of short-term courses on topics of pressing interest to the Russian energy sector. These included: 1) Building Good Community-Company Relations, 2) Corporate Governance, 3) Inter-governmental Relations in the Energy Sector and 4) the Negotiation and Implementation of Agreements. The courses were presented in seminar form once or twice a year in each of the following Russian cities: Moscow, Tyumen, Samara, St. Petersburg and Tomsk.

Since 2006, the Institute's activities in Russia have involved collaboration with Russian universities in the teaching of natural resources law and policy, especially at the graduate level.