Safety and Regulations

Safety and regulations: protecting what matters

British Columbia has been a leader in safe, responsible natural gas development for more than 50 years. Regulations are responsive to modern industry practices, public safety and the environment.
 
The BC Oil and Gas Commission 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 BC Oil and Gas Commission’s core roles include reviewing and assessing applications for industry activity, consulting with First Nations, ensuring industry complies with provincial legislation and cooperating with partner agencies. Public interest is protected through the objectives of ensuring public safety, protecting the environment, conserving oil and gas resources and ensuring equitable participation in production.

An independent scientific review panel has been established by the B.C. government to evaluate the current hydraulic fracturing processes.  The panel will review the process of hydraulic fracturing used to extract B.C.’s natural gas, current regulations and provide recommendations to minimize risks to the environment.

News Release - Hydraulic fracturing scientific review panel announced

Environmental Assessment Process

Major projects in B.C. are assessed for potentially significant adverse environmental, social, economic, health and heritage effects by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), as required by the Environmental Assessment Act. When a project enters a provincial environmental assessment process, the proponent provides details on what they believe to be the potential adverse effects of the project, and how they mitigate those effects. The EAO then seeks input from scientific professionals, Indigenous groups, the public, local governments, and federal and provincial agencies to ensure that no adverse effects are missed.
 
There are three stages in an environmental assessment: pre-application, application review and the decision stage. After the application review stage, provincial ministers have three options:  issue an environmental assessment certificate with any conditions they consider necessary, allowing the proposed project to proceed to further permitting specific to the industry of the project, refuse to issue the certificate or require further study or assessment. 

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 are also necessary to help LNG vessels safely navigate through inland waters.
 
In 2016, approximately 260 million tonnes of LNG was traded around the world by 439 carriers, including a total of 31 new builds (including 2 FSRUs). A total of 4,246 voyages were completed during 2016, a 5% increase compared to 2015. 
 
The industry has a long-standing safety record. 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.