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Legal Guide

The potential of the British Columbia offshore region is largely unknown, due to a moratorium on oil and gas activities that has been imposed by both the federal and provincial governments since 1972. The moratorium was imposed due to concerns regarding interference with fishery activities and the concerns of adverse environmental impacts. However, interest in the area remains high. While there have been no significant discoveries, there are areas within the British Columbia offshore region that are considered to be highly prospective. In 2003, the federal government initiated a scientific review, a public review process and a First Nations engagement process. The scientific panel found some scientific gaps needed to be filled prior to lifting the moratorium. Strongly held and widely polarized views were identified in the public review, and all participating First Nations expressed the view that lifting the moratorium would not be in their best interests, although some qualified their response with “not at this time”. In the 2007 BC Energy Plan, the government of British Columbia committed to offshore oil and gas exploration and development, and asked the federal government to lift the moratorium. The BC government indicated the provincial moratorium would be lifted at the same time. As of September 2014, the moratoria were still in place.

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