A Comparative Study of Licensing and Concession Systems
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Tina Hunter
Chapter 7: Offshore petroleum resource access and regulation in Canada
Canada is one of the world’s leading petroleum producers. It claims significant proven reserves of oil and natural gas. Canada’s reserves are estimated to be in the order of 173 billion barrels of oil and 70 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Canada’s provinces, listed in order of entry into confederation, are Ontario (1867), Quebec (1867), Nova Scotia (1867), New Brunswick (1867), Manitoba (1870), British Columbia (1871), Prince Edward Island (1873), Saskatchewan (1905), Alberta (1905) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1949). Its territories are the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. Canada has an extensive coastline, and lays claim to significant offshore resources. Petroleum resources can be found off the west coast and off the north coast (including in the Arctic). However, most of Canada’s offshore development and production is occurring off the east coast, in the Atlantic. The area off the coast of British Columbia (Canada’s west coast) is subject to a policy-based moratorium on oil and gas activities. Consequently, there are no current petroleum operations in this area. For the most part, the resources located in Canada’s north and in the offshore areas (except those within the stated jurisdiction of separate arrangements between governments) are within the jurisdiction of the federal government. However, responsibility for onshore oil and gas (and other resources) located in Yukon and the Northwest Territories has been devolved to the relevant territory. At this stage, the offshore resources in these areas remain under the control of the federal government.
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