Skip to main content

The BC Energy Regulator manages the cumulative effects from oil and gas, using Area-based Analysis (ABA).

ABA Layers
Area-based Analysis (ABA).

ABA allows us to look at the combined effects of all industrial development across the landscape when planning or making decisions on oil and gas, and geothermal applications.

Using ABA, the BCER's decision makers can understand impacts of proposed oil and gas, environmental values in the context all other development activities. Using this tool, impacts to the whole landscape can be considered when looking at specific applications or activities, rather than just the localized effects of one permit.

Area-based Analysis Frequently Asked Questions

What is Area-based Analysis?

Area-based Analysis (ABA) is a framework for managing the impact of oil and gas development in northeast BC. ABA monitors cumulative impacts to environmental values to allow for improved consideration of landscape level effects in decision making.

What areas are subject to Area-based Analysis?

ABA applies across the Peace Region of northeast BC.

How does Area-based Analysis work?

ABA measures incremental disturbance to environmental values across ecological assessment areas in northeast BC. When disturbance exceeds an identified trigger, the risk status escalates from normal, to enhanced management and regulatory policy. Activity in high-risk ABA status areas requires increased management actions.

What values are included in Area-based Analysis?

There are four values in ABA at this time:

  • Hydro-riparian ecosystems
  • Old forest
  • Wildlife
  • Old Growth Management Areas

Who will have access to the ABA information and data?

ABA status information and maps can be accessed through the ABA website at and spatial data can be accessed through the associated FTP site.

How does ABA fit with current regulations?

Area-based analysis integrates strategic direction from the Environmental Protection Management Regulation into a coherent framework. This framework considers the material adverse effect proposed and existing development on environmental values identified under Governments Environmental Objectives.

What is the scope of Area-based Analysis?

Area-based Analysis follows the outline identified in the 1999 document “Cumulative Effects Assessment Practitioners Guide” prepared for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Scoping consists of five basic steps:

  1. Identify the issues of concern
  2. Select the appropriate values
  3. Identify the spatial and temporal boundaries
  4. Identify the actions that impact the values
  5. Identify potential impacts from the actions and possible effects.

What are the potential benefits?

One of the best methods to manage resource development and environmental/cultural conflict is to share the information available with all interested parties. Identifying the values important to each First Nation ensures that these values are recognized and considered early in the application process.

How can First Nations participate in Area-based Analysis?

The Regulator is actively engaged in the Regional Strategic Environmental Initiative (RSEA) to listen to First Nation concerns regarding cumulative effects in northeast BC. The Regulator is also engaging with First Nations and the Aboriginal Liaison Program in field assessments and validation processes (under the FREP program). The Regulator is looking to engage First Nations on an ongoing basis to help guide the continuous improvement of ABA values, protocol and management.

How does Area-based Analysis consider treaty rights?

The Regulator is participating in the Regional Strategic Environmental Initiative (RSEA) to explore approaches to develop a structured assessment of specific treaty rights. Future enhancements to ABA will include the addition of RSEA values and consideration of additional values such as wildlife abundance, clean water and healthy watersheds, biodiversity for hunting and medicinal plants, air and water quality and other treaty rights (peaceful enjoyment).

What are the current ABA results?

ABA Status information is available in the ABA online reports. As of June 2020:

  • ABA Hydro-riparian currently reports 46 water management basins as 46 normal, 22 enhanced management and 2 regulatory policy.
  • ABA Old Forest reports three of six natural disturbance units in northeast BC to exceed the retention targets for Old Forest
  • Old Growth Management Areas are reported as 193 normal and 47 regulatory policy.
  • Wildlife areas are reported as 323 normal, 20 enhanced management and 48 regulatory policy.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the analysis?

Area-based Analysis (ABA) is a valuable tool for decision makers and resource managers to manage the environment and minimize further impacts. ABA quickly draws attention to areas where the risks of cumulative effects are high to ensure escalated management.

ABA has been developed using structured technology and scripts. This allows ABA to be updated routinely to monitor incremental changes on the land-base. ABA now has five consecutive years of assessments making it the province's most dynamic assessment.

How does the Regulator validate ABA status?

The Regulator is actively reviewing key data and assumptions in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). Specifically the two organizations are working together to:

  • Understand how cumulative effects impact streams, forests, wildlife and biodiversity
  • Understand regional variability and sensitivity to disturbance
  • Model recovery to account for ecological succession and restoration
  • Coordinate a collaborative field program to evaluate the accuracy of GIS based risk assessments relative to field conditions.

Field monitoring ecosystems for cumulative effects

The Regulator has completed extensive field assessments of hydro-riparian areas to verify ABA. Field studies have found a general relationship between field-based stream indicators and landscape level disturbance, however the relationship is complex and confounded by natural disturbances in the northeast. Continued monitoring of streams and new monitoring programs for OGMA and wildlife areas are required.

What are the next steps?

The Regulator is continuously improving ABA, this includes:

  • Validation of existing indictors through science based fieldwork
  • Address stakeholder priorities by delivering new values to ABA
  • Establish new policy to support improved management actions.
  • Reconcile ABA with other provincial initiatives (RSEA/CEF).
  • Explore collaborative stewardship opportunities with First Nations.

Where can industry find ABA information?

ABA information, including maps, reports and spatial data, is available on the Regulator’s website. If you require any additional information please contact

What is the desired outcome of ABA?

ABA endeavors to reduce the cumulative impact of oil and gas activities by minimizing the footprint and environmental impact of operations. Wherever possible the Regulator strives to see no new disturbance where the ABA Status is enhanced management or regulatory policy. When activity is unavoidable in these areas, the Regulator expects industry to reduce their impact by using existing disturbance, minimizing new clearing, limiting ground and vegetation disturbance, applying minimal disturbance techniques and encouraging rapid ecological recovery through restoration.

What if a trigger is exceeded?

Where ABA status is enhanced management or regulatory policy, a Mitigation Strategy is required to document site specific information, demonstrate consideration of the mitigation hierarchy and explain how impacts will be minimized and mitigated. Mitigation Strategies should be developed by a Qualified Professional and align with governments policy for mitigating impacts to environmental value (Environmental Mitigation Policy).

What ABA information is required in the application procedure?

Operators are required to indicate in the Application Management System (AMS) if a proposed activity will impact an ABA enhanced management or regulatory policy areas. If an application intersects an enhanced management or regulatory policy area the applicant must upload a Mitigation Strategy and delineate ABA areas in their Construction Plans.

What can industry do to make sure ABA requirements do not hold up applications?

To deliver effective applications and avoid delays or returns, Industry should include ABA in the planning of all oil or gas activities. Oil and gas activities to be planned in a way that minimizes the development footprint and expedites restoration.

  1. Review ABA Website
  2. Download the ABA Riparian, ABA Old Forest, ABA Wildlife and ABA OGMA shapefiles for use in development planning
  3. Review Supplementary Information for Area-based Analysis
  4. During the development planning process consider:
    • How can I plan the activity to avoid enhanced management and regulatory policy areas
    • Work with a Qualified Professional to draft an ABA Mitigation Strategy
  5. ​What can I do to minimize disturbance?
    • Use existing disturbance, common access and shared corridors
    • Place auxiliary disturbance outside sensitive areas
    • Minimize new land disturbance by narrowing right of ways and reducing clearing
    • Implement strategies that will expedite reclamation

How is Area-based Analysis taken into consideration in the permitting process?

The Regulator considers Area-based Analysis (ABA) in reviewing applications under the Land and Habitat Review. Delegated and statutory decision makers of the Regulator have the authority to request changes to an application to reduce the cumulative impacts, apply permit conditions or refuse an application if the impact is too high.

Website Feedback