Strengthening Nova Scotia’s Offshore Petroleum Laws and Regulations

June 18, 2013

The province and federal government are moving forward on their commitment to strengthen laws and regulations on oil and gas activity and exploration offshore.

Premier Darrell Dexter and federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver today, June 17, announced plans to more effectively and efficiently regulate Nova Scotia’s offshore by raising the absolute liability from $30 million to $1 billion.

The move will protect the environment and ensure taxpayers do not end up having to pay the bill for any possible spill off the shore of Nova Scotia.

“Nova Scotia is facing unprecedented opportunities right now, including renewed interest and billions of dollars in new investments in the province’s offshore,” said Premier Dexter. “But that doesn’t justify throwing caution to the wind.

“Nova Scotians have seen the devastating effects of oil spills in other jurisdictions. The government wants to ensure the safe extraction of Nova Scotia’s offshore resources while at the same time protecting the environment. Raising the absolute liability for companies operating in our province will certainly help achieve that goal.”

The change represents a 3,000 per cent increase in liability. The governments have also agreed to make explicit in legislation the polluter pays principle, which strengthens the legal requirement of companies operating on the province’s offshore.

“Supporting jobs and long-term economic prosperity in Atlantic Canada and across our country demands a modern offshore liability regime that protects Canadian taxpayers,” said Mr. Oliver. “Today’s $1-billion milestone in our plan for Responsible Resource Development will ensure that accountability for operators in the Atlantic offshore is updated and in line with international standards.”

Nova Scotia and the federal government will continue to work together over the coming months to finalize changes to legislation. Some of these proposed amendments include:

— requiring the public release of documents such as environmental and emergency preparedness plans
— providing the offshore boards with the authority to levy administrative and monetary penalties for non-compliance with laws, regulations or orders
— providing the offshore boards with the necessary tools to conduct environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012
— increasing deposit amounts required by the regulator before drilling approvals are granted.

The Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board administers Nova Scotia’s offshore petroleum regulations.