Regulation & Monitoring
Canada's oil and natural gas industry operates in one of the world's most stringent regulatory environments, with both federal and provincial or territorial regulations.
Monitoring of all oil and natural gas industry activity helps ensure that regulatory conditions are met, and provides research data to help improve operations.
Bill C-69, “The Modernization of the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency,” was passed by Parliament in June 2019. This legislation overhauled both the National Energy Board Act (NEBA) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Act (CEAA), changing how major infrastructure projects are reviewed and approved in Canada.
Now, major energy projects are reviewed by a new agency called the Canadian Environmental Regulator. CAPP, its members and the oil and natural gas industry have many serious concerns regarding this legislation and its negative impact on the industry, and subsequently on employment, government revenues and prosperity in Canada.
Environmental Policies in Canada
Rules for water use, tailings management, air emissions, monitoring and reporting requirements and reclamation are established through the approvals process. Depending on the nature of the project, approvals can be issued with conditions under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act, Public Lands Act and energy resources statutes (including Oil Sands Conservation Act and Oil & Gas Conservation Act).
Provinces have jurisdiction over resources and are responsible for regulating their development. Each province has its own regulators dealing with environment, labour, safety and transportation.
Alberta Energy Regulator
Alberta Environment and Parks sets thresholds to minimize the impact of oil and natural gas developments on air, land and water through its policies and environmental frameworks. It is responsible for regional planning, integrated land management and land use policy.
Established in 2013, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is the single regulator of energy development in Alberta — from application and exploration, to construction and development, abandonment, reclamation and remediation. The agency was created to ensure Alberta’s energy industry balances efficiency and competitiveness with public safety, environmental management and landowner rights.
British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission
Regulation of oil and natural gas activity in B.C. is the responsibility of the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC). This includes overseeing applications for drilling and other developments, FracFocus (information about hydraulic fracturing and additives in fracking fluids), water management and other oversight.
The province of Saskatchewan regulates the oil and natural gas industry, including environmental protection, well liability, royalties, and other aspects of the industry’s operations.
Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board
Canada’s offshore industry has operates under regulations affecting safety, spill prevention and response, seismic surveying and seabird observation and handling.
Monitoring the impacts of oil and natural gas activities, from air quality to water use to land reclamation and more, are generally stipulated in requirements of licenses and approvals that companies must obtain prior to undertaking activities such as drilling, hydraulic fracturing, mining and any kind of facility construction. Companies are required to monitor the impacts of their activities and to report the results of their monitoring programs to the appropriate regulatory agencies.
Industry regulates its operations over and above government regulation. Canada’s oil and natural gas industry has developed guidelines, operating best practices, and industry recommended practices (IRPs). although these measures are not regulated, companies adhere to these practices and guidelines.
In addition, there are many networks that monitor such impacts as air quality, water quality, wildlife and more. These networks are often collaborations between industry, government and special interest groups. Examples include the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute.
Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA)
The Wood Buffalo Region is home to a number of species and a population of more than 100,000. The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) provides real-time monitoring on environmental conditions including air quality, terrestrial and human exposure. The data gathered helps to ensure that regional stakeholders in the area have the information they need to make decisions.