International Regulators' Forum Global Offshore Safety



Member Country Profile - Canada

Country: Canada

Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB)

Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB)

National Energy Board (NEB)

Regime Scope:

The CNSOPB and the C-NLOPB are responsible for the regulation of petroleum activities in the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Area and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, respectively.

The NEB is responsible for the regulation of petroleum activities in the onshore part of the Inuvialuit Settlement Regions in the Northwest Territories as well as in the Norman Wells Proven Area and selected sites in the Northwest Territories, Nunuvut, Sable Island (jointly with the CNSOPB), and submarine areas (not within a province) in the internal waters of Canada or the continental shelf of Canada (excluding those offshore areas under the sole jurisdiction of the CNSOPB or the C-NLOPB).

The Boards' principal responsibilities include: worker health and safety; environmental protection; issuance of exploration and production licenses; conservation of petroleum resources; geoscience data management & distribution; and industrial benefits (CNSOPB and C-NLOPB only).

Administering Agency /Arrangements:

The CNSOPB and C-NLOPB are independent entities established under federal and provincial statutes; accountable to federal and provincial Ministers of Energy / Natural Resources, and Ministers Responsible for Worker Health and Safety.

The NEB is an independent federal regulatory tribunal reporting to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Natural Resources.

Legislation Type:

CNSOPB and C-NLOPB: Federal and Provincial Acts and Regulations

NEB: Federal Acts and Regulations

Extent Of Government Approval:

CNSOPB and C-NLOPB: Fundamental decisions of the Boards pertaining to rights issuance / cancellation, prohibitions, development plans, and cessation of activities in certain instances are subject to government approval. Federal / provincial governments also approve the Boards' annual operating budgets.

NEB: Board decisions pertaining to development plans are subject to federal government approval. The federal government also approves the Board's annual budget.

Nature of Duties Imposed:

A blend of goal-oriented and prescriptive regulations. The Chief Safety Officer and Chief Conservation Officer may however, subject to certain criteria, authorize the use of equipment, methods, measures, or standards in lieu of any required by regulation

Physical Objects in the Regime:

Drilling of exploratory and production wells is carried out using semi-submersible drilling units, drill ships, gravity based structures, and sub-sea infrastructure.

In addition, the Boards regulate construction vessels, diving vessels and seismic vessels involved with oil and gas exploration and exploitation.

Offshore Nova Scotia:

Two operational natural gas projects: Sable Offshore Energy Project comprising five (5) production platforms (1 manned, 4 unmanned), and a 26" pipeline (approximately 200 kilometers in length) to bring gas to shore; Deep Panuke Offshore Gas Project comprising one production platform, 4 production sub-sea tie-backs, one acid-gas disposal well, and a 22" pipeline (approximately 175 kilometres in length) to bring gas ashore.

Offshore Newfoundland and Labrador:

Three oil producing projects comprising: one GBS integrated drilling (2 rigs) production accommodation installation, and two FPSOs. All oil is shipped by shuttle tankers which are outside of the Board's regulatory responsibility.

Assurance Mechanisms:

Each work or activity proposed to be carried on in the offshore area related to the exploration or drilling for or the production, conservation, processing or transportation of petroleum requires the authorization of the responsible Board, and the person holding such authorization must be in possession of a valid operating license. There are additional work or activity specific approvals required from the responsible Board, or its Officers, as defined in the Regulations.

  • Safety plans and environmental protection plans are required to be submitted with work or activity authorization applications
  • A Certificate of Fitness from a recognized certifying authority required for installations (drilling, accommodation, diving, and production installations);
  • Board inspection, audit and investigation programmes;
  • Industry self inspections and audits; and
  • Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee requirement

Financial Basis:

Initially the CNSOPB budget is jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia. Likewise, the C-NLOPB budget is jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. However, the governments have established a fee based cost recovery program to partially offset funding requirements.

The NEB budget is assigned by the federal government.

Environmental Regulation Responsibilities:

The Boards are responsible for ensuring the protection of the environment during all phases of offshore petroleum activities.

The Boards undertake an environmental assessment of proposed projects to meet the environmental requirements set out in their respective enabling legislation. For major projects, such as the drilling, testing, and abandonment of an exploratory well in an area set out in one or more exploration licences or construction, installation, operation, decommissioning, and abandonment of an offshore floating or production platform used for the production of oil and gas, an environmental assessment is required pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

Oil Spill Response:

As part of a work or activity authorization application, an operator is required to submit to the relevant Board a plan(s) for response to safety or environmentally related emergencies including an oil spill response plan.

In the event of a petroleum spill from its installation(s), the operator is responsible, as soon as possible, to:

  • take all reasonable measures consistent with safety and the protection of the environment to prevent any further spill;
  • to repair or remedy any condition resulting from the spill, and;
  • to reduce or mitigate any danger to life, health, property or the environment that results or may reasonably be expected to result from the spill.

While the Boards are the lead government agency for spill response in their offshore areas, numerous agencies of the federal and provincial government, depending upon the precise circumstances of an individual spill event, may provide advice and support to the applicable Board in its interactions with the responsible operator.


Each Board has an internet site where much information is made public, such as weekly activity reports, production reports, spill summaries, major incident investigation reports, etc.

The federal Access to Information Act applies to the Boards, and is a mechanism for the public to access information held by the Board, while at the same time protecting the proprietary information of Operators.

Profile Author:

Sean Kelly, Manager of Public Relations, C-NLOPB in cooperation with:

Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

National Energy Board

Profile Date: August 2015



Members Access   |   Copyright 2010 - International Regulators' Forum