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British Columbia Offshore Oil & Gas

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Presentation on theme: "British Columbia Offshore Oil & Gas"— Presentation transcript:

1 British Columbia Offshore Oil & Gas
Admiralty G. Darren Williams Background courtesy of Peter Hannigan & Geological Survey Canada

2 British Columbia’s First Offshore Oil Rig
SEDCO-135F This triangular configuration semi-submersible drilling rig was built in Victoria in by Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd. At the time the largest semi-submersible in the world, this sixth in the SEDCO 135 series completed 14 wells on the BC coast between 1967 and 1969 and went on to work in Australia, the North Sea, and later South America. - photo courtesy of Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd.

GEORGIA BASIN natural gas 6.5 tcf WINONA & TOFINO BASIN natural gas 9.4 tcf QUEEN CHARLOTTE BASIN natural gas 25.9 tcf Oil 9.8 bb (2.6 bb recoverable) Diagram courtesy of Peter Hannigan & Geological Survey Canada

NEWFOUNDLAND Hibernia, White Rose Hebron: 1.22 bbo recoverable (350 km offshore) NOVA SCOTIA Sable Island Cohasset 45 mbo & 3 tcf recoverable (250 km offshore) Diagram courtesy of Terra Nova Project

5 Sources of Law Governing BC’s Offshore
International Convention Canadian Federal Law Provincial Law Common Law Maritime Law An important distinction lies in the difference between a government’s right to legislate in an area (jurisdiction) and the government’s right to utilize a resource (property right). Photo courtesy of Archie Kay “Ocean Bounty” in Nanoose Bay, BC

UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA 1982, “UNCLOS III” This Convention was ratified by Canada in 1985, and its terms are mirrored by Canada’s Oceans Act, 1997. Important Points of UNCLOS : - recognized that a “State” (the federal government) has property rights and jurisdiction over its territorial sea and seabed, this being 12 nautical miles offshore from the “baseline”. - the “baseline” is a line drawn along the coastal low water mark, and across indents in the coast, but not departing appreciably from the direction of the coast. Waters inside this are “inland waters”. - established the “Exclusive Economic Zone” - giving the State sovereignty over living and non-living natural resources from the baseline to 200 nautical miles out.

7 Federal Jurisdiction over the Offshore
Under international law (UNCLOS III) and the Oceans Act, the Federal government has the following rights over the following areas: Territorial sea (out to 12nm) - absolute ownership of the seabed and its contents, and jurisdiction to legislate over these areas. Exclusive Economic Zone (out to 200 nm)- sovereignty (control but not ownership) over living and non-living resources Continental Shelf (beyond 200 nm and out to 200 metre isobath) - sovereignty over non-living resources only. This power is of no particular concern on the West Coast because of the width of the continental shelf. The Oceans Act has been drafted to allow for the application of Provincial law to areas outside of the Province (the seabed seaward of the baseline), including the territorial sea and the continental shelf, but Federal regulations are necessary to implement such Provincial law, and none have been enacted.

8 Provincial Jurisdiction over the Offshore
Provincial jurisdiction is limited to areas within the boundaries of the Province. As well, Provincial legislation cannot impinge on the Federal government’s jurisdiction over navigation and shipping or fisheries, as established by the Constitution Act These factors constrain the Province’s jurisdiction over the offshore. The boundaries of British Columbia with respect to the offshore have been partially confirmed by the Supreme Court Court of Canada and the common law. These boundaries were originally determined by an 1866 Act of British Parliament, that set the western most boundary as the “Pacific Ocean”. Although vague, this definition of the boundary may work in favour of the Province.

The Supreme Court of Canada has been asked on several occasions to decide the issue of which level of government has jurisdiction and property rights over offshore resources. EAST COAST Hibernia Reference - the court found that the offshore minerals belonged to the Federal government as Newfoundland has acceded the right to them when the joined confederation in 1949 without explicitly maintaining jurisdiction over them. WEST COAST Offshore Mineral Rights Reference - court held unanimously that the minerals in the seabed of the territorial sea and the continental shelf rested absolutely and exclusively with the Federal government. Georgia Strait Reference - by a decision of 4 to 1 the court found that the minerals and the seabed of Georgia Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait, Johnstone Strait and the Queen Charlotte Strait belonged to the province, as they had in 1866 when the British Parliament passed an act giving this land to the colony of British Columbia, and as it did when BC joined Confederation in 1871.

10 Provincial Property in the Coastal Seabed
The 1984 Supreme Court of Canada decision determined that the seabed of Queen Charlotte Strait, Johnstone Strait, Georgia Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait belonged to Province of British Columbia. The Province therefore has common law property rights in the seabed and its resources. Notably, the area owned by the Province includes the seabed above the Georgia Basin, as well as south-eastern portions of the Tofino Basin, both of which are natural gas reserves. Diagram courtesy of BC Ministry of Energy & Mines

11 Federal/Provincial Property in the Coastal Seabed
Diagram courtesy of Peter Hannigan and Geological Survey Canada Federal/Provincial Property in the Coastal Seabed Queen Charlotte Basin (2.6 bbo recoverable) The Queen Charlotte Basin lays beneath the seabed of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. These straits were not included in the Supreme Court’s 1984 Ruling on Provincial property rights. It is not clear whether Hecate Strait is part of the Territorial Sea or whether Hecate Strait is within the boundaries of the Province. Therefore, it is unclear whether the Province fails, as some assume, to have property rights (or jurisdiction) in the Queen Charlotte Basin.

12 Current Regulatory Regime - BC Offshore
There is currently no regulatory regime in place in British Columbia for an offshore oil and gas industry The current state of the offshore is characterized by a series of Federal and Provincial Moratoriums, including: - Federal moratoriums on tanker traffic in Hecate Strait and exploratory drilling in same. - Provincial moratoriums on exploration and development in the inland marine zone, as well as the areas between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The Provincial government’s Oil and Gas Commission has no mandate, and perhaps no jurisdiction over Hecate Strait. The Federal and Provincial government share a joint mandate over environmental matters.

GEORGIA BASIN Provincial jurisdiction, as laying within the area delineated by the 1984 SCC decision Re Georgia Straight WINONA & TOFINO BASIN clearly Federal jurisdiction QUEEN CHARLOTTE BASIN jurisdiction and ownership of the seabed is uncertain. Options for resolving this uncertainty include a Hecate Strait Reference, or perhaps more likely, a Pacific Accord. Diagram courtesy of Peter Hannigan & Geological Survey Canada

14 The SEDCO 135F under construction in Victoria in 1966
Photo courtesy of Victoria Machinery Depot Co. Ltd. The SEDCO 135F under construction in Victoria in 1966

15 The End G. Darren Williams - Giaschi & Margolis
# Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC

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