Review of the Federal Moratorium on Oil and Gas Activities Offshore British Columbia
Rights, Risks and Respect : A First Nations Perspective on the Lifting of the Federal Moratorium on Offshore Oil & Gas Exploration in the Queen Charlotte Basin of British Columbia.
Review of the Federal Moratorium on Oil and Gas Activities Offshore British Columbia : Nisga'a Lisims Government, Submission to the Minister of Natural Resources. (PDF format, 42 MB)
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The Terms of Reference for the “Report of the Public Review on the Government of Canada Moratorium on Oil and Gas Activities in the Queen Charlotte Region of British Columbia” state that “in 1972, the Government of Canada imposed a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic through the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound due to concerns over the potential environmental impacts.” However; the moratorium on oil and gas activities offshore British Columbia does not apply to tanker traffic.
Prior to 1972, a number of permits for oil and gas exploration were issued for offshore
British Columbia. Due to environmental concerns, rights under those permits were suspended as of 1972 by way of Orders in Council, thus forming a de facto moratorium.
The Orders in Council expired on March 5, 1982, and the Government of Canada enacted the Canada Oil and Gas Act (COGA), which provided that the permits be renegotiated into exploration agreements and a time limit was imposed for renegotiation. Additionally, if renegotiation was not possible for reasons outside the control of the permit holders, the time frame for negotiation was to be extended and the rights continued to be valid.
At that time, the Government chose not to renegotiate the permits in the area under moratorium offshore British Columbia, whereby maintaining the moratorium on offshore oil and gas activity by way of policy decision.
The COGA was replaced on February 15, 1987, by the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA). Upon proclamation of the CPRA, exploration agreements previously issued under COGA became exploration licences subject to the terms of the new legislation. The renegotiation scheme was grandfathered and the Crown has maintained its policy decision not to renegotiate the former permits.
Thus, the moratorium continues to be maintained through government policy. No activity can occur until the former permits are converted to exploration licences. The decision not to negotiate with industry to convert those permits is a pure policy decision. There is no statutory impediment to carrying out those negotiations.
A voluntary tanker routing measure, the Tanker Exclusion Zone (TEZ), is in place off the west coast of B.C. It applies to loaded crude oil tankers transiting from Alaska to California. For further information regarding the TEZ, please visit the Canadian Coast Guard online at: http://www.pacific.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/mcts-sctm/tez_e.htm.
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