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New bill proposes change to Oil and Gas Activities Act

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By Energeticcity.ca staff

 

B.C.’s Energy Minister introduced the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Statutes Amendment Act in the legislature on Monday.

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Blair Lekstrom says that if approved, the act will provide greater certainty for industry, improve environmental protection, and make dispute resolution more balanced and effective for landowners and industry.

The proposed bill comes on the heels of B.C. Auditor General John Doyle’s report on the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.

In a nut shell, his report concludes that the OGC isn’t doing a good enough job in its oversight of restoring contaminated well sites in the northeast.

The report included numerous recommendations to the OGC, and at the time, Blair Lekstrom insisted the new act will give the OGC more power to enforce the suggested changes.

Below is a brief overview of the amended Act:

– The OGC will have expanded powers to use money from the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund to clean up sites where no oil and gas owner can be held accountable.

– The OGC will have a broader authority to collect fees and levies that support it in regulating the industry.

– The Province will have the authority to set environmental objectives for the OGC to incorporate into their permitting decisions.

– Amendments regarding approvals for pipeline crossings of roads will better accommodate community interests and government transportation objectives.

The act also includes amendments to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act, which include:

 

– The Mediation and Arbitration Board will be renamed the Surface Rights Board, to clarify the board’s purpose.

– Landowners will now have the right to request mediation in surface access disputes.

– Neighbours and tenants will now have the right to request mediation for claims related to damage caused by an oil and gas activity.

– The board will have authority to deal with disputes over the operation of a surface lease.

– The board will have expanded authority to award costs.

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