On August 6, 2015, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (the
"OGC") announced that it had approved amendments to the
Drilling and Production Regulation that would, among other things,
regulate the reporting requirements of permit holders relating to
Previously, the regulations did not require permit holders to
report seismic events. However, some permit holders were required
to report seismic activity as a term of their permit, particularly
those involved in fracturing and disposal activities in the Horn
In December 2014, the OGC released its Investigation of Observed Seismicity in the Montney
Trend report (the "Seismicity Report"), which
concluded that fluid injection during fracturing operations in the
Montney Trend had caused low-level seismic activity. The Seismicity
Report also linked waste water disposal in the area to seismic
activity. These findings caused the OGC to conclude that induced
seismic activity was not limited to the Horn River Basin, and that
therefore "a more uniform application of regulations is
The recent amendments to the Drilling and Production Regulation
are reportedly aimed at creating such uniformity. The new
regulations apply to all permit holders who engage in fracturing or
disposal operations on a well, regardless of the location, and
without the need for the inclusion of an express condition in the
permit. There are no exceptions for current permit holders who do
not have seismic reporting obligations as a condition on their
permit – the reporting obligations apply to all
current and future well permit holders. The specifics of the new
reporting obligation are as follows:
If a permit holder records a seismic
event within 3 km of the drilling pad during fracturing or disposal
operations, the permit holder must disclose the event to the OGC if
either (a) the seismic event had a magnitude of 4.0 or greater,
or (b) "any person" within the 3 km radius felt
Following the report, the OGC will
determine if the seismic activity was caused by the permit holder.
If it was, and if the seismic event had a magnitude of 4.0 or
greater, the permit holder must immediately suspend fracturing and
disposal operations. Such operations can only continue after the
permit holder implements "operational changes" that the
OGC is satisfied will reduce or eliminate additional induced
The fact that the permit holder must report any seismic activity
where a person feels ground motion is significant, given that a
feeling of ground motion is highly subjective. As noted in the
Seismicity Report, very small "microseismic" events are
common during fracturing operations but are often so insignificant
that they do not warrant any action. Yet under the new regulation,
if any person (including employees, contractors or even nearby
landowners) reports feeling ground motion after such activity, the
permit holder must report the event to the OGC.
In addition to the new seismic activity reporting requirements,
other changes to the Drilling and Production Regulation
Enhanced testing and analysis
requirements (particularly with respect to isotope data sampling on
exploratory wildcat wells and exploratory outpost wells);
New requirements for establishing
safe distances between flares/incinerators and nearby structures;
Liquid waste storage regulations,
including requirements in respect of above-ground, lined structures
used to store fluids.
These amendments came into force effective July 30, 2015. The
full text of the amendments can be found here.
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On January 1, 2017, Albertans not only welcomed in the New Year, they also welcomed increased prices on everyday fuels such as gasoline and natural gas, as the Provincial government's controversial carbon levy officially came into force.
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