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Amendments have been made to the Dormancy and Shutdown Regulation (DSR) and Drilling and Production Regulation (DPR) related to the restoration of dormant and former oil and gas sites.

DATE ISSUED: Jan. 30, 2023


As part of the Regulator’s environmental management, we are committed to ensuring inactive energy resource sites are returned to their pre-activity state in a timely and efficient manner.

Amendments have been made to regulations related to the restoration of dormant and former oil and gas sites, including bringing timelines for restoration of pipelines and certain facilities into the Dormancy and Shutdown Regulation (DSR), enabling the Regulator to accept alternative timelines for site restoration via an exemption application process, and clarifying restoration obligations in the DSR to ensure alignment with existing environmental regulations.

The Dormancy and Shutdown Regulation (DSR) sets timelines by which restoration at all dormant and former sites must occur. The most significant changes to the DSR are as follows:

  • The establishment of firm timelines for decommissioning, assessment, and restoration of pipelines and certain facilities, effective Jan. 1, 2024;
  • Alignment of site restoration obligations with section 19 of the Environmental Protection and Management Regulation (EPMR), which includes new guidelines for utilizing ecologically suitable species during site restoration activities; and,
  • The establishment of an exemption provision, enabling the Regulator to approve alternative site-specific timelines and to impose conditions for the completion of specified work at a dormant or former site.

The amended DSR is available online.

The DSR update also includes a consequential amendment that changes section 79 of the Drilling and Production Regulation (DPR) effective Jan. 1, 2023. This change makes clear when a facility must be suspended following inactivity and when a notification of suspension must be submitted.

The amended DPR is available online.

Inclusion of Pipelines and Facilities with the DSR

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, permit holders will have fixed timelines for decommissioning, assessing, and restoring pipelines and certain facilities (see Figure 1, below). The timelines to complete these activities align with the Type C wellsite closure timelines. Facilities regulated under the Drilling and Production Regulation (DPR) are now also regulated under the DSR, while larger facilities regulated under the Oil and Gas Processing Facility Regulation and the Liquified Natural Gas Facility Regulation remain excluded. The Regulator is completing dormant pipeline and facility inventory verification and validation and anticipates external live lists of dormant pipelines and facilities will be available by the second quarter of 2023.

Closure Timelines
Figure 1

Alignment with Section 19 of the Environmental Protection and Management Regulation (EPMR)

Site restoration obligations have always been tied to permit conditions and permit holders have always been required to restore their associated disturbance. Section 19 of the EPMR defines the restoration requirements for all dormant and former sites and requires permit holders to utilize ecologically suitable species during site restoration activities.

Exemption Provision

The exemption provision supports the purpose of the DSR by ensuring dormant and former sites are restored within prescribed timelines, while allowing for cost-effective restoration that minimizes unnecessary surface disturbance. An exemption does not absolve a permit holder of their site closure obligations.

The use of site-specific exemptions is an authority intended to be applied under irregular circumstances. Exemption requests must be supported by evidence of closure work completed to-date, along with a detailed rationale as to why remaining activities cannot be completed within the default timelines. In granting an exemption, the Regulator may impose any conditions deemed necessary.

Permit holders may request exemptions starting January 2023 and are encouraged to reach out to the dormant sites team via email ( to discuss site-specific considerations prior to making an exemption request.

If you have any questions regarding this Technical Update or the DSR in general, please contact:

Matt Edgar
Manager, Closure
BC Energy Regulator

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