British Columbia has been a leader in safe, responsible natural gas development for more than 50 years.
Regulations in B.C. are responsive to modern industry practices, public safety and the environment.
The BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) is the provincial regulator with responsibilities for overseeing all natural gas operations in the province, including exploration, development, pipeline transportation, and land reclamation. They will also regulate many aspects of B.C.’s LNG export industry.
Experience and Expertise
The BCOGC has almost two decades of experience regulating oil and gas activities. They have over 200 skilled professionals, including geologists, hydrologists, engineers and environmental specialists, overseeing operations in B.C., including hydraulic fracturing.
Regulations for the LNG industry in B.C. are in place and are based on the best national standards for LNG production, storage and handling. A dedicated team with the BCOGC will monitor pipeline and export facility operations.
Permitting and Approvals
Industry requires the appropriate permits before any operation can move forward. Reviews are conducted for all industry applications, including major industry projects.
Major industry projects in B.C., including large LNG export proposals, undergo an extensive review and require an environmental assessment certificate from the provincial government. These export facilities can also require environmental approval from the Government of Canada, in addition to an export licence. Federal laws govern marine traffic and shipment.
The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office manages the review process for major proposals in British Columbia through the Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency conducts assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Any industry proposals submitted for assessment can be approved, approved with conditions, or rejected. If rejected, the industry proponent who made the submission can make improvements to the application in an attempt to meet B.C.’s high environmental standards.
Environmental reviews are conducted before construction can take place. If an industry proponent receives an environmental assessment certificate, they will still need the appropriate permits from all governing agencies. For example, a company will need a permit from the BC Oil and Gas Commission before a pipeline can be built and operated.
Environmental protection, public safety, and Aboriginal engagement are all important aspects of the review process.
Safe Transportation of LNG
Transportation of LNG is tightly regulated. There are detailed emergency-response plans in place for transporting LNG and all precautions are taken to ensure safety.
LNG carriers are built to rigorous international standards. Construction is supervised by third-party inspectors and all ships must have international certification. Tugboats will also help LNG vessels safely navigate through inland waters.
The industry has a long-standing safety record. In 2014 alone, approximately 240 million tonnes of LNG were traded around the world. The latest statistics indicate 350 carriers have completed more than 135,000 voyages globally, travelling more than 240 million kilometres at sea.
There has never been a significant incident resulting in a loss of cargo at sea or in port. LNG is colourless, odorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. In the unlikely case of a spill, LNG simply warms up from -160°C, evaporates, and returns to a gaseous state, dispersing into the atmosphere. There is no residue on either soil or water. No clean-up is required.
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