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The BC Energy Regulator considers oil and gas, and geothermal sites as temporary uses of the land; therefore, careful planning beforehand is required to ensure a successful project end.

We ensure operators plan oil and gas, and geothermal activities to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the land, mitigate impacts where no realistic opportunity exists to avoid, and restore the impacted area to its pre-development conditions at the end of a project.

What and Where is Oil and Gas Activity in B.C.?

Oil and gas exploration and development is primarily in northeast British Columbia, particularly in the Montney and Liard basins. Of the 444 wells drilled in 2018, 95 per cent were drilled in the Montney formation. Directional and horizontal drilling used in unconventional technologies is reducing the effects of new development on plants and wildlife since companies can locate operations where there is less impact.

Why Measure Oil and Gas Activity?

The continuing shift from conventional to unconventional gas development is creating opportunities to better understand the interplay between surface use and subsurface resource development, and assess the surface area used by oil and gas activities.

The BCER released Area-based Analysis in Jan. 2015 as an enhanced approach to managing resource stewardship and reducing the impact of oil and gas activity. We use ABA to address the long-term effects of oil and gas activity in its decision making. Various decisions involving roads, water, geophysical exploration, well and facility locations, and pipeline corridors can cause cumulative effects to both environmental and social values. ABA allows us to manage industry activity comprehensively for ecological, social and cultural heritage values. Proposed activities are assessed considering the combined footprint of industrial development on the selected values. That means decisions about oil and gas activities will be made with all industrial development in mind.

The BCER calculates the surface footprint resulting from the following disturbances: Wells, Roads, Facilities, Pipelines, Other oil and gas Infrastructures (such as camps), Seismic lines (resulting from geophysical exploration).

Measuring oil and gas activity is one way we enhance resource stewardship and increase understanding of the interplay between surface and subsurface impact. The BCER is undertaking an Area-based Analysis approach to gather information and data specific to each basin to allow for better informed regulatory decisions. The approach evaluates oil and gas activity in order to improve understanding of the relationship between various oil and gas activities across a specific basin or area, and informs the implementation of initiatives that reduce surface and subsurface impact.

A key element of each Area-based Analysis is the baseline definition of the surface area already used for oil and gas activity. A large proportion of this area is presently taken up by seismic lines resulting from geophysical exploration. Ultimately, natural succession and reclamation will restore the surface area used to a biologically functional state.

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