Effective January 5, 2015, the BC Oil and Gas Commission (the
"OGC") will begin using "Area-based Analysis" in considering
applications for oil and gas activities in northeastern BC.
The stated intention of Area-based Analysis is to integrate the
requirements of existing statutes and regulations and allow the OGC
to better and more consistently take into account the cumulative
impact of industrial development when assessing applications for
oil and gas activities. The combined footprint impact of all
industrial development on the selected "values" will be
taken into account. This includes all surface land use disturbance
associated with oil and gas activity, geophysical activity,
cutblocks and non-oil activity (such as mining, recreation, hydro,
wind power, transmission lines).
The OGC and the Ministries of Forests and Lands and Natural
Resource Operations have been collaboratively developing this new
approach since 2012. The process is similar to the current
cumulative impact assessments carried out by the Environmental
Assessment Office, but will apply to all applications for oil and
gas activities, not just major projects. It will cover the entire
Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in northeastern BC, including
all four key development basins (Liard; Horn River; Montney; and
The OGC has identified eight "values" that will be
considered in the process. Only the first two will be used at
the outset. The others are expected to be implemented over
old growth forest;
high priority wildlife;
cultural heritage values;
ground water; and
The OGC has stated that it is working with First Nations
communities to identify additional values that could be included
within Area-based Analysis. Therefore, the above list should not be
For each value, a baseline analysis will be conducted and areas
of the province (the precise number and nature of these areas
depends on the value being considered) will be associated with an
"indicator" and two "triggers" that are derived
from current policy/legislation. The "indicator" will
dictate the level of review that an application will face and the
type of permit conditions that may be considered.
Generally, the OGC's goal is to return indicators to a level
below that of the relevant triggers. However, this does not mean
that applications in areas where the indicator exceeds a trigger
will necessarily be rejected, just that they will face greater
scrutiny. Of course, with any increased scrutiny comes timing
concerns and the possibility of delay.
From an industry perspective, it remains unclear how significant
the new approach will be. We note that the analysis results for old growth forest and
hydro-riparian ecosystems (the first two values to come into
effect) state that all six "natural disturbance units"
for old growth forest and 42 out of 69 "water management
basins" are below the applicable triggers. None of the
remaining 27 water management basins exceed the threshold for the
second trigger. This may indicate that in many areas little change
in operating practices is currently required. Though as additional
values are added, it is likely that one or more of the thresholds
will have been exceeded in areas with significant industrial
Readers interested in learning more should refer to the
OGC's FAQs and Overview.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).