1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Legal Guide

Onshore exploration activities continue in every province in Canada although the scale is relatively modest outside of the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. These activities are governed by provincial legislation except to the extent that a federal power might be invoked (an example would be impacts on navigable waterways). The majority of onshore oil and gas resources are located on government-owned lands (referred to as Crown lands). 

Alberta is the clear leader, ahead of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, in onshore oil and gas activities. However, activity in British Columbia and Saskatchewan has been increasing over the last few years – with petroleum rights acquisitions in British Columbia and Saskatchewan hitting record highs.

Conventional onshore oil and gas in Alberta dates back to the first major discovery at Turner Valley in the 1930s. More recently, unconventional production in Alberta, such as shale/tight gas and oil sands, has become the dominant source of supply growth in Canada.[] The Mines and Minerals Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and the Gas Resources Preservation Act provide the foundational governmental regulatory regime in Alberta. The Alberta Department of Energy is responsible for overseeing the regime by providing the policy, administration and regulatory support. Two quasijudicial agencies of the Government of Alberta are responsible for overseeing the regulatory regime in Alberta. The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) regulates the safe, responsible, and efficient development of Alberta’s energy resources, including oil, natural gas, oil sands, coal, and pipelines located solely within the province. The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) regulates investor-owned electric, gas and water utilities, and some municipally owned electric utilities, oversees the tolls, tariffs and service regulations of energy transmission through natural gas pipelines and electric transmission lines and oversees the siting of electric transmission facilities, electric power plants and natural gas transmission pipelines. The Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA), which came into effect in 2009, requires all activities to be in compliance with applicable Land-Use Frameworks (LUF). If a LUF is in place in a region where a new development or activity is proposed, government departments and decision making bodies, such as the AER, must take the LUF into consideration prior to approving the development. Seven LUFs are being developed for the province. 
Unconventional onshore oil and gas development in British Columbia is considered to have substantial potential, with natural gas being the focal point. Developments in multi-stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies have recently allowed previously untapped shale and tight natural gas resources to be economically developed. [] As such, the northeast portion of British Columbia bordering with Alberta has seen increased activity in the Montney play region, the Cordova Embayment, the Liard Basin and the Horn River Basin. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Act and the Oil and Gas Commission Act provide the foundational regulatory regime in British Columbia. The Ministry of Energy and Mines provides oversight of the regulatory framework and the Oil and Gas Commission regulates the crude oil, natural gas and pipeline activities in the province of British Columbia. 
Saskatchewan, like British Columbia, has not developed its oil and gas resources at the same pace nor to the same extent as Alberta, although considerable development has occurred in the northwest and southwest parts of the province that border with Alberta. Oil production in Saskatchewan is second only to Alberta among Canadian provinces, and the Province is Canada’s third largest producer of natural gas.[] Recent focus has been on the Bakken oil play which is also thought to contain significant natural gas resources.[ percent5C120514 percent5Cmag2012_ye0000.html]. The Department of Energy and Mines Act and the Oil and Gas Conservation Act constitute the primary regulatory regime governing oil and gas resources in Saskatchewan. 

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Division of the Ministry of the Economy is responsible for the exploration, development, management and conservation of non-renewable resources and ensuring the orderly exploration, development and optimized recovery of those resources.

Quebec has also shown potential for large unconventional gas resources since the Utica shale gas play – estimated to be among the top 10 shale fields on the continent – extends into the Province. [] In March 2011 the Quebec Environment Minister announced a temporary moratorium on the use of fracturing during shale gas drilling pending a full environment assessment audit. The moratorium remained effective as of September 2014. However, in June 2014, Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources issued a Ministerial Order outlining a prescriptive framework for oil and gas exploration on Anticosti Island. The Ministerial Order provides some indication that Quebec’s provincial government may be considering wider exploration and development of the province’s petroleum resources.

Additional posts from the blog



Canada’s Anti-Spam Law – New Guidance on Offering Apps, Software

by Margot Patterson

CASL also prohibits installing a “computer program” – including an app, widget, software, or other executable data – on a computer system (e.g. computer, device) unless the program is installed with consent and complies with disclosure requirements. The provisions in CASL related to the installation of computer programs will come into force on January 15, 2015.



Environment Canada issues Hydrofluorocarbon reporting requirement

by Nalin Sahni

On April 7, 2014, the Minister of the Environment issued a Notice with respect to hydrofluorocarbons (the “Notice”), pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The Notice imposes reporting requirements on those who imported, exported, or manufactured certain hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”) from 2008 and 2012. A non-exhaustive list of HFCs subject to these reporting requirements can be found in Schedule 1 of the Notice.



“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

by Andy Pushalik

In an interesting decision, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that an employer is not liable for discriminatory and harassing texts sent by a rogue employee to another of its workers.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

© 2018 Dentons