The Commission is a single-window regulatory agency with responsibilities for overseeing oil and gas operations in British Columbia throughout its lifecycle, including exploration, development, consultation, pipeline transportation and reclamation. The Commission reviews applications and has the regulatory authority to issue permits for companies to construct and operate LNG plants and pipelines in British Columbia.
Many different factors are taken into account when assessing a major project permit application, including public safety, protecting the environment and consultation with First Nations communities and those affected by oil and gas development. A coordinated review process with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office ensures recommendations from the environmental assessment process are also taken into account during the Commission’s review.
The permitting process for major projects can be broken down into five phases:
Applicant submits a detailed description of the project to the Commission and participates in initial meetings with staff.
Applicant assembles required materials that include:
- Project information.
- The status of land being considered.
- Consultation and Notification process & results.
- Archeology assessments.
- First Nations consultation packages.
- Emergency, safety, and integrity management plans.
- Any other information, as required.
2. Application Submission
Applicant submits completed application to the Commission.
The applicant can apply without an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC), if applicable, but a permit will not be issued by the Commission until an EAC has been granted (where required).
3. Technical Review and First Nations Consultation
Commission staff undertake a Technical Review of the application, including:
- Natural resource and environmental values and impacts.
- Community Relations.
At the same time, Commission staff assess any potential impacts on First Nations' interests and undertake consultation, as appropriate.
Package is prepared by the Commission and goes to the Statutory Decision Maker. The Statutory Decision Maker prepares a draft decision and offers to engage both the Applicant and First Nations, as appropriate, prior to final decision.
5. Decision Phase
The Statutory Decision Maker makes a decision on the application and communicates this to the applicant, relevant First Nations, applicable land owners, and other agencies.
Oil and gas development in British Columbia is governed by the Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA) and under this there are many different enactments, such as the Water Sustainability Act, Forest Act and Environmental Management Act that serve to develop a framework of laws, regulations and rules around oil and gas development that protect public safety and the environment. These laws, regulations and rules guide the Commission’s permitting process. A link to the Commission's regulations is here. If activity commences on a major project, the Commission oversees the lifecycle of the project, from construction and operation, through to remediation when the facility or pipeline ceases to operate.