The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board is responsible for ensuring the protection of the environment during all phases of offshore petroleum activities. The Board ensures that petroleum activities are conducted in a manner in which environmental hazards are properly identified, and the associated risks assessed and then mitigated and managed.
Operators must receive authorization from the Board prior to conducting any petroleum-related activity in the Nova Scotia offshore area (see: Requirements to Operate Offshore). In support of the authorization process, the operator must submit an environmental assessment, and environmental protection plan (EPP) in the case of exploration and drilling programs, and a spill contingency plan.
Authorization is only granted to the operator if the EA demonstrates that significant adverse environmental effects are unlikely or justified in the circumstances. EAs are required under the Accord Act for seismic exploration programs and any other offshore petroleum projects for which an EA is not required pursuant to CEAA 2012.
The EPP and spill contingency plan must be deemed acceptable by the Board prior to program approval. The EPP must follow the Board’s Environmental Protection Plan Guidelines, and contain commitments to follow the Offshore Waste Treatment Guidelines and the Offshore Chemical Selection Guidelines. Operators should also refer to the Physical Environmental Guidelines (2008).These guidelines clarify regulatory requirements concerning the observing, forecasting, and reporting of physical environmental data during offshore petroleum activities.
These three guidelines have been implemented by the CNSOPB, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, and the National Energy Board, and undergo review every 5 years. The Board may impose additional mitigation measures or operating constraints as part of an authorization as a result of the findings of an environmental assessment.
The Board has in place a Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement program to assure regulatory compliance of authorized work and activities being conducted. Operators are also required to implement Environmental Effects Monitoring programs for development activities, and for some exploration activities.
As part of the Board's stakeholder involvement in the environmental protection process, the Board has entered into memoranda of understanding with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment Canada. Annual work plan projects are developed with each department and implemented under these memoranda. The Board is also involved in initiatives led by DFO related to marine protected areas (MPAs) and integrated management planning under the Oceans Act. Additionally, the Board consults with its Fisheries Advisory Committee (FAC) on environmental and fisheries-related matters.
The key accountabilities of the CNSOPB for environmental protection are:
To advance protection of the environment;
To determine the readiness of operators to conduct offshore activities in an environmentally responsible and compliant manner when considering authorization and approval applications from operators; and
To monitor operations for compliance with applicable regulatory requirements including environmental managements systems and plans, authorization and approval conditions, and operator commitments.