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How do companies apply for oil and gas permits?

Companies looking to explore, develop, produce, and market oil and gas resources in British Columbia must apply to the BC Energy Regulator for oil and gas activity permits. The BCER's role in permitting oil and gas activities is defined by the Energy Resource Activities Act.

Companies must adhere to specific application requirements throughout the entire process. Once pre-application requirements are complete, companies prepare and compile the relevant information for submission to the BCER. Following application submission, our staff conduct a comprehensive technical review of the application based on the characteristics, location and circumstances of the activity.

What is the application and review process?

  • 1
    Applicant identifies locations for oil and gas activities, conducts any on site assessments and conducts pre-application engagement.

  • 2
    Applicant conducts required consultation and notification and First Nations engagement.

  • 3
    Applicant uploads spatial data and application requirements in Application Management System (AMS).

  • 4
    Applicant validates application for completeness and accuracy. Submits application and pays application fee.

  • 5
    BCER conducts in depth technical reviews and carries out First Nations consultation.

  • 6
    BCER makes a determination on the permit and informs affected land owners and First Nations. Permit holder adheres to timelines conditions, laws and regulations.

What happens post-approval?

If approved, activities must be carried out in accordance with the permit, regulations, applicable laws and timelines and/or conditions attached to the permit. Permits must be in hand before conducting any activity.

Permit holders should maintain ongoing dialogue with the BCER and stakeholders throughout the life cycle of the project. This includes operational and reporting requirements and continued engagement as defined in BCER manuals and guidelines.

BCOGC Regulatory Life Cycle Graphic 2020 review application1

Application Requirements

Oil and gas and associated activities require a permit from the BC Energy Regulator. Operators may apply for a single activity or multiple activities at the same time through the BCER’s Application Management System. Therefore, a single application may include more than one activity.

The application system utilizes spatial data to verify the geographic location of a proposed oil and gas activity and land required. Applicants then input engineering and/or technical data into the required fields for the specified activity. Additional supporting information may be required depending on the activity and its location including a summary of the results from consultation and pre-engagement with land owners and rights holders and First Nations. In addition, land use, environmental values, archaeology, forestry and agricultural land use information may be needed.

In 2019, the BCER approved: 668 new oil and gas related applications, which included 592 new wells, 587 new road segments, 71 new facilities and 99 new pipeline segments.

BC Energy Regulator Decision Makers

BCER decision makers review all oil and gas activity applications. Dependent on the location and scope of the activity, other areas of expertise may be involved.

A thorough review is done by agriculture, forestry, community relations, archaeology, engineering (drilling and production, pipelines and/or facilities), land and habitat, environmental management, First Nations, hydrology, resource stewardship and resource development to name a few.

The statutory decision maker gathers the results and recommendations from these reviews and makes an informed decision. For example: The Resource Development team provide technical expertise in subsurface oil and gas conservation issues, and assess applications so optimal depletion strategies are employed.