Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada

June 18, 2013 09:00 ET

Federal-Provincial Cooperation Modernizing Liability for Offshore Petroleum Drilling Operators

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - June 18, 2013) - The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, with the Honourable Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, and the Honourable Tom Marshall, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, today announced plans to support jobs and enhance our world-class offshore petroleum drilling regime by raising the absolute liability for companies operating in the Atlantic offshore to $1 billion from $30 million. Minister Oliver also announced that offshore absolute liability would be increased from $40 million to $1 billion in the Arctic.

"Supporting jobs and long-term economic prosperity in Atlantic Canada and across our country demands a modern offshore liability regime that protects Canadian taxpayers," said Minister Oliver. "Today's $1 billion milestone in our plan for Responsible Resource Development will ensure that accountability for operators in the Atlantic offshore is updated and in line with international standards."

Together, the federal and provincial governments have also agreed to make explicit the "polluter pays" principle in legislation. This is only implicit in current legislation. These changes will incentivise spill prevention by companies operating in the Atlantic offshore.

"Nova Scotia is facing unprecedented opportunities right now, including renewed interest and billions of dollars in new investments in the province's offshore," said Premier Dexter. "But that doesn't justify throwing caution to the wind. Nova Scotians have seen the devastating effects of oil spills in other jurisdictions. Our government wants to ensure the safe extraction of Nova Scotia's offshore resources while at the same time protecting the environment. Raising the absolute liability for companies operating in our province will certainly help achieve that goal."

Other proposed changes include:

  • Allowing governments to pursue financial compensation for environmental damages from operators responsible for spills;
  • Requiring the public release of environmental and emergency preparedness plans;
  • Providing the Offshore Boards with the authority to levy administrative and monetary penalties for non-compliance with laws, regulations or orders; and
  • Providing the Offshore Boards with the necessary tools to conduct environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012.

"Newfoundland and Labrador has an abundance of natural resources and is the centre for offshore oil development in Canada," said Minister Marshall. "Our government takes the development and management of these resources seriously and we look forward to finalizing the proposed changes to legislation that will strengthen and improve our offshore regime."

Through the Government of Canada's plan for Responsible Resource Development, we are undertaking aggressive measures to create a world-class tanker safety system, increase oil and gas pipeline inspections, double comprehensive audits of pipelines and implement new safety measures for oil tankers to ensure the safe and reliable transport of energy resources through our waterways. The proposed changes to the offshore legislation will build upon these measures to ensure that Canada's offshore regime is the strongest in the world.

Canada's offshore petroleum resources are jointly managed by the federal and provincial governments. Over the coming months, the federal government will work closely with the Governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to finalize these changes. The Government of Canada will also work to finalize the proposed changes to the federal legislation for Canada's other offshore areas.

By modernizing the offshore petroleum regime in concert with provincial partners, the Government of Canada is following through on its commitment to responsible resource development.

The following media backgrounder is available at

Federal-Provincial Cooperation Modernizing Liability for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration and Operations

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