New regulations that come into effect today will move B.C. to the forefront of the petroleum and natural gas sector in North America says Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Bill Bennett.
These changes will support growth and jobs in a vibrant industry, while protecting the province's natural beauty, said the Minister as he announced the formal implementation of the Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA) and its regulations.
'Growing investor confidence and technological advances are driving B.C.'s natural gas and petroleum sector forward, and we need to ensure this growth has regulations that make sense for industry, stakeholders, the environment and all British Columbians,' said Bennett. 'These changes ensure B.C.'s largest resource revenue earner continues to prosper and create jobs, while enhancing our world-class environmental standards.'
Following extensive consultations with stakeholders, OGAA and its regulations will modernize a regulatory framework that is almost 50 years old. 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Oil and Gas Commission Act and the regulatory provisions currently found in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act will be repealed and will now be governed under the Oil and Gas Activities Act.
OGAA better defines and clarifies the role of the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing petroleum and natural gas operations in B.C. The commission now has stronger compliance and enforcement powers to govern a modern industry. A new appeal tribunal will respond to any challenges raised about the decisions made by the commission.
'This new regulatory framework will strengthen and clarify the independent role of the commission from permitting and engineering, through to compliance and enforcement,' said Alex Ferguson, commissioner and CEO of the BC Oil and Gas Commission. 'This is the culmination of an enormous amount of work by staff who will now focus on ensuring a successful implementation.'
Comprehensive environmental requirements are a key part of the new regulatory framework, with stronger, more consistent environmental guidelines and standards for industry, ensuring responsible management practices as the sector continues to grow.
Landowners, First Nations and other stakeholders will also have an opportunity for input on the development of natural gas and petroleum activities. New consultation and notification requirements will ensure the concerns of landowners, First Nations and stakeholders are addressed and taken into consideration by industry operators who are seeking a permit to explore for petroleum and natural gas resources.
'Industry is prepared to work with the new regulations as the next phase of responsible resource development in B.C.,' said Dave Pryce, vice-president operations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. 'The regulations reflect the increased importance of the environment, regular communication with stakeholders and a renewed commitment to safety.'
The Oil and Gas Activities Act received Royal Assent in 2008. Extensive consultations ensured community concerns played a role in the development of the act. Since the act was passed, the regulations have been developed and refined based on further consultation.
Comprehensive training has been a key component of the process this year, providing industry and industry workers with the necessary time further develop their understanding of the new requirements governing the natural gas and petroleum sector.
More information about the Oil and Gas Activities Act and details on the regulations of British Columbia's natural gas and petroleum sector are available on the BC Oil and Gas Commission's website at: www.ogc.gov.bc.ca