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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 Nova Scotia, and the Newfoundland and Labrador, offshore areas respectively.

The NEB is responsible for the regulation of petroleum activities in the Northwest Territories, Nunuvut and 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 (CNSOPB and C-NLOPB only); 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.

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, or grant an exemption from any regulatory requirement in respect of equipment, methods, measures, or standards.

Physical Objects in the Regime:

Drilling of exploratory and production wells is carried out using jack-up or semi-submersible drilling units, drill ships, bottom founded structures such as caissons, or artificial or ice islands.

Numbers of active MODU's vary; currently there is a jack-up in Nova Scotia and 3 off Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, the Boards regulate construction vessels, diving vessels and seismic vessels involved with oil and gas exploration and exploitation.

Offshore Nova Scotia:

One operational natural gas project comprising: five (5) production platforms (1 manned, 4 unmanned), and one 26" pipeline (approximately 225 kilometers in length) to bring gas to shore. One additional natural gas project is proposed for start of operations in 2011. This project will have one production platform, with 4 production sub-sea tie-backs and one acid-gas disposal well. An additional 22" pipeline has been constructed 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.

Other Canadian Offshore and Frontier Areas:

There are currently no active oil and gas drilling or production programs in the other Canadian offshore and frontier areas and no applications are being actively being considered in these areas. The NEB is currently conducting an Arctic Offshore Drilling Review to examine safety and protection of environment aspects for future application for offshore drilling in areas under their jurisdiction.

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 a federal authority under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Under the CEAA (where applicable), offshore petroleum exploration and exploitation activities require an environmental assessment.

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

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 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 legislation prescribes, however, that Operator information shall generally be held in confidence with exceptions noted.

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:

Keith Landra
Director, Operations / Health, Safety & Operations
Safety Officer
Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board

Howard Pike
Manager, Operations & Safety (retired)
Chief Safety Officer
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

Bharat Dixit
Team Leader, Conservation of Resources
National Energy Board

Profile Date: 25 January 2011



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