IHS CERA: Canadian oil sands regulations 'similar to Australia, Alaska'

The environmental regulatory system for Canadian oil sands is similar in rigor to mining and oil operations in South Australia and Alaska, according to a new report by analyst IHS CERA.

Assessing Environmental Regulation in the Canadian Oil Sands is the latest report from the IHS CERA Canadian oil sands dialogue, which aims at an objective analysis on the benefits, costs, and impacts of various choices associated with Canadian oil sands development.

“The report provides important context to the ongoing discussions about the development of Canadian oil sands,” said Jackie Forrest, director of the IHS CERA Canadian oil sands dialogue. “While this is not a comprehensive list of all aspects of environmental regulation, it provides an illustrative case study,” said Forrest, adding, “There are more similarities than differences between oil sands environmental regulation and that of its peers.”

IHS CERA said the southern Australia and Alaskan operations were determined to be suitable project-level peers to the oil sands because “their operations are similar in size and scope, and they have comparable governance, resource investment and development philosophies.”

Key similarities among the projects include:

Project-level regulation. The project approval, ongoing operations, and project closure phases of a project’s life—including the data required and process—were found to be similar for the Canadian oil sands and its peers. Similarities include the approval process, public consultation and outcomes during approvals, the use of inspections and enforcement, and requirements for environmental monitoring.

Data availability and transparency. When considering project approvals, reclamation financial security, enforcement and inspections data availability and transparency for oil sands were found to be comparable to others.

Consultation requirements during operations. Alaska and South Australia also have no formal requirements for oil and gas developments, though they are required for active mines. The oil sands regulatory system also has no formal requirements. However, in all three jurisdictions many operators voluntarily consult with local stakeholders on a regular basis.

Financial securities. All jurisdictions examined require financial securities for surface mining operations in case operators go bankrupt and cannot reclaim lands disturbed during the operation.

Project denials are rare. Because of ongoing vetting prior to submission, a common criticism of oil sands development is that projects are always approved. The report finds that project denials are also rare in South Australia and Alaska. One reason for few denials is that when a project developer discovers the regulator’s requirements cannot be met they typically either terminate the costly application process or change the project design to address the regulator’s concern.

Although many similarities were observed between Canada’s oil sands regulations and that of its peers, differences do exist, the report says.

In particular, the report does not make comparisons at the regional level as each jurisdiction has different growth outlooks.

“Oil sands are projected to grow rapidly, possibly doubling over the next decade while the growth outlooks for South Australia and Alaska are relatively modest,” IHS CERA said.

Key differences include:

Differences in process sequence. Lands leased for Canadian oil sands development are leased to industry prior to studying the environmental impacts or consulting the public. The process proceeds in the opposite order in Alaska, where an environmental impact assessment is conducted and stakeholders are consulted before lands are made available to resource developers with stipulations and conditions for the region as a whole. However, Alberta is currently in the process of establishing a regional plan that encompasses the oil sands development area. If the plan is approved, oil sands projects would be subject to regional conditions and stipulations similar to Alaska, the report notes.

Method for financial security differs. While all jurisdictions examined require financial securities for surface mining operations in case operators go bankrupt and cannot reclaim lands disturbed during the operation, the method for oil sands differs from the peer group in one aspect. For Alaska and South Australia, the financial securities are intended to cover all estimated reclamation costs. For oil sands, only part of the reclamation cost is paid by the funds in the government's financial security—the remainder of the cost is covered by the value of the resource (the bitumen available for recovery).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

Related Articles

BHI: US rig count forced down by large losses in Texas

12/12/2014 Forced down by large losses in Texas and specifically the Permian basin, the US drilling rig count plummeted 27 units to settle at 1,893 rigs worki...

Husky reports start of steam operations at Sunrise oil sands project

12/12/2014

Husky Energy, Calgary, reported the start of steam operations at the in situ Sunrise Oil Sands Project in northeastern Alberta.

Independent assessment hikes Husky heavy oil resources

12/12/2014 Husky Energy Inc., Calgary, says an independent assessment increases its heavy oil resources in the Lloydminster region of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

Stone drills successful Utica exploration well

12/10/2014 Stone Energy Corp., Lafayette, La., reported that its Pribble 6HU well in Wetzel County, W.Va., flowed from a 3,605-ft lateral at 30 MMcfd during t...

North Dakota producers face new vapor pressure standards

12/10/2014 North Dakota has approved new rail transportation safety standards for crude oil that stipulate operating standards for oil-conditioning equipment ...

Goodrich considers selling Eagle Ford assets

12/10/2014 Goodrich Petroleum Corp., Houston, is considering the sale of at least some of its shale assets in the South Texas Eagle Ford, the company said, ad...

More West Texas gathering, processing to come onstream

12/09/2014 EagleClaw Midstream Services LLC, Midland, Tex., has bought natural gas gathering and processing in Reeves County, Tex. The company declined to ide...

Kearl resumes oil sands production, Imperial reports

12/09/2014 Imperial Oil Ltd., Calgary, has resumed production at its Kearl oil sands operations in Alberta after a precautionary shutdown due to a “vibration ...

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected