The primary legislation governing oil and natural gas activities offshore Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia is the Atlantic Accord and the Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts. Offshore oil and natural gas operations in Newfoundland and Labrador are regulated by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), an independent administrative board jointly appointed by the federal and provincial governments, whose mandate is to interpret and apply the provisions of the Atlantic Accord and the Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts to all activities of operators in the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, and to oversee operator compliance with those statutory provisions. Similarly, in Nova Scotia the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NSOPB) regulates the industry.
In accordance with the Atlantic Accord and Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts, every offshore operator must have authorization from the C-NLOPB or C-NSOPB to pursue offshore activity.
Operators are required to submit a variety of plans and meet specific requirements in order to receive authorization from the C-NLOPB or C-NSOPB to conduct work offshore. This includes developing and submitting the following:
- Safety Plan which sets out the procedures, practices, resources, sequence of key safety-related activities and monitoring measures necessary to ensure the safety of the proposed work or activity;
- Environmental Protection Plan that sets out the procedures, practices, resources and monitoring necessary to manage potential hazards and to protect the environment from the proposed work or activity;
- Contingency Plan (including emergency response procedures such as oil spill response plans) that sets out how to mitigate the effects of any potential event that might compromise safety or environmental protection and includes: territorial or federal emergency response plan, and where oil is reasonably expected to be encountered, identify the scope and frequency of the field practice exercise of oil spill countermeasures; and
- Benefits Plan that describes a plan for the employment of Canadians and, in particular, members of the labour force of the province in which the activity is occurring; and for providing manufacturers, consultants, contractors and service companies in the province and other parts of Canada with a full and fair opportunity to participate on a competitive basis in the supply of goods and services.
All plans are reviewed by the C-NLOPB or C-NSOPB and are accepted as part of the authorization process prior to activity being initiated. Companies conducting activity offshore additionally follow other federal legislation and regulation including, but not necessarily limited to: