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Oil and gas operations in B.C. must be carried out in compliance with relevant legislation, including the Oil and Gas Activities Act and its regulations.

What is Compliance & Enforcement?

Operators have a legal obligation to meet all legislated requirements. The Commission expects applicants and permit holders to use formal practices in day-to-day operations and comply with the Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA), the specified enactments and all related regulations.

It is the permit holder’s responsibility to know and uphold any legal responsibilities inside and outside of the Commission’s legislative authority. The Commission audits and inspects permit holder activities and investigates incidents of alleged non-compliance.

When Does Regulatory Compliance Begin?

Regulatory compliance is required before an application is submitted, including consultation and notification of land owners. Operators may seek advice from the Commission and should review all manuals, guidance and regulations for requirements. Once an application is submitted, the Commission reviews the applications against legislative (legal) requirements, and for environmental and public safety. During detailed project reviews, the Commission can and does require companies to change the application based on First Nations consultations, land owner concerns and/or technical assessment results.

If a permit is issued, the Commission oversees that project throughout its life cycle until the land used is remediated. The Commission works to make sure industry understands, respects and meets or exceeds all the regulations and standards. Industry is encouraged to develop best management practices and the Commission works with industry to share lessons learned and advances in science and technology.

Compliance and Enforcement Officers conduct site inspections, respond to incidents, and address complaints from land owners, First Nations, public and other stakeholders.

How Does the Commission Enforce Compliance?

  • Compliance is accomplished through proactive monitoring and inspection of permit holder activities, and investigation and enforcement of alleged non-compliances.
  • The enforcement process encompasses an array of tools and actions that work to keep activities and operations in compliance with legislation, including the issuance of orders, findings of contravention, and execution of administrative penalties.
  • Inspection results are tracked and shared with permit holders for action. The Commission has authority to order corrective work or even shut down operations not in compliance with the law.
  • If a permit holder is found to have a high risk non-compliance issue, they must respond with an immediate action. If a non-compliance issue is not addressed, the Commission may respond with escalated enforcement action.
  • The Commission can issue an Order requiring compliance within a set time period if industry does not comply with the legislation, regulations or requirements set out in permits and authorizations. An Order can also be issued to mitigate a risk to public safety, to protect the environment, or to promote conservation of oil and gas.
  • If someone fails to comply with an Order issued by the Commission, they can be found in contravention of the legislation and may subject to administrative monetary penalty or may be subject to prosecution in BC provincial court.
Orders determinations flowchart
Commission enforcement action process

How Do We Proactively Regulate?

The Commission has the legislative authority to make decisions on proposed oil and gas activities. While the Commission does not set policy, the diverse expertise and experience of Commission staff provides critical insight at every level of oil and gas development. This knowledge base provides perspective through scientific evidence, guidance, best practices, reports, tools and analysis.

Companies looking to explore, develop, produce, and market oil and gas resources in B.C. must apply to the Commission. The Commission reviews, assesses and makes decisions on these applications. This consolidated single-window authority provides not only a one-stop place for all oil and gas and associated activity requirements, but a consistent application, decision, regulatory and compliance authority. Stakeholders work with one agency; therefore, the Commission serves the public interest by having an all encompassing review process for oil and gas activities.

Drilling Deeper

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