The Alberta Energy Regulator is now being required to get proof oil and gas companies have paid taxes owed to municipalities before they can transfer or issue a new license. 

Energy Minister Pete Guthrie is issuing a ministerial order.

Companies will have to confirm that their unpaid municipal taxes don't exceed the maximum threshold allowed or that they have a repayment agreement in place whenever they apply for new licenses or for license transfers.

The president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, Paul McLauchlin, says only a small number of companies avoid their property tax payment obligations, but it has had major fiscal impacts on rural municipalities. 

Municipalities have reported an estimated $220 million in unpaid taxes, with $130 million in tax arrears and the remaining $90 million in cancellations.

The Province says many of these taxes will not be recoverable outside insolvency proceedings because they are owed by companies no longer operating or because the taxes have already been written off by municipalities, or both.

A smaller but significant portion of unpaid taxes, approximately $76 million, is owed by companies that are still operating and is potentially recoverable, including through repayment agreements.

Municipalities have reported they already have repayment agreements in place to help collect $48 million in unpaid taxes. There is further potential for municipalities to recoup another $28 million from companies that are still operating.