On Monday, October 4, 2010, the British Columbia Oil and Gas
Activities Act ("OGAA") and Regulations
came into effect. The Pipeline Act, the Oil and Gas
Commission Act and the regulatory provisions currently found
in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act will be repealed and
activities previously regulated under those statutes will now be
governed under the singular framework of the OGAA.
The implementation of the OGAA represents an overhaul
of oil and gas regulation in British Columbia, revamping roughly
90% of B.C.'s nearly 50‐year‐old oil and
gas regulatory framework. The OGAA actually received Royal
Assent in 2008, but it was not until October 4th that it came into
force, following extensive consultation and refinement. According
to the Ministry of Energy, the new legislation is intended to
modernize the regulation of the dynamic petroleum industry, account
for new technological developments and changes in societal norms
and standards with respect to the environment and environmental
protection, and recognize growth in the sector in a way that makes
sense for industry, stakeholders, the environment and all British
Among the major changes brought about by the OGAA is a
clarification and expansion of the role of the provincial Oil and
Gas Commission ("OGC"), the regulatory agency responsible
for overseeing petroleum and natural gas operations in B.C. This is
coupled with the creation of a new appeal tribunal created to
respond to challenges to OGC decisions. Included in the OGC's
new mandate are:
increased powers to consider stakeholder comments and
an expanded suite of Compliance and Enforcement tools,
the ability to levy penalties in accordance with the nature and
severity of the individual contravention and the operator's
new administrative and monetary penalties,
expanded powers to amend, cancel, or suspend permits; and
increased powers at the outset with respect to issuance of
permits, including refusal to issue, or attaching conditions on
There is also an increased role for Ministries connected to oil
and gas activity, including the introduction of a formal say on
planning and permitting from the Ministers responsible for
Forestry, Agriculture and Environment.
The OGAA also includes increased consultation
requirements, mandating that an applicant for a permit must notify
and consult with nearby land owners, First Nations and other
stakeholders prior to applying. Further, private land owners can
appeal a decision of the OGC regarding the issuance or amendment of
a permit covering their land.
In some respects, the OGAA also simplifies and
streamlines procedures as it reduces the amount of prescriptive and
detailed requirements by utilizing accepted industry standards and,
in certain instances, incorporating results‐based
requirements. In an effort to enable innovation, the OGAA
allows that, following a review by the OCG, innovative new
technologies or methodologies may qualify for designation as a
Obviously, the impacts of this new regulatory regime on the oil
and gas sector remain to be seen. Extensive consultation in the
drafting and implementation of the OGAA involved an
attempt to address the concerns of all stakeholders, including
industry and interest groups impacted by petroleum sector
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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