Monitoring and Compliance

We expect each operator to follow the rules and regulations. We make sure oil and gas activities are completed in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The requirements for oil and gas activities in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area are set out in the Accord Acts and regulations. As the regulator, our role is to ensure that rules and regulations are followed. Once we grant an authorization, our job isn’t done. We hold operators accountable throughout the lifecycle of an authorized activity, from exploration, development and production to the eventual decommissioning and abandonment of a project. Depending on the type of activity and the associated risks, we may increase our level of monitoring to make sure work is done safely and responsibly.

Monitoring

We monitor each activity authorized in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area very closely. We use our monitoring activities, such as conducting audits, inspections, reviewing reports and holding face-to-face meetings, to make sure operators are following the rules and regulations as well as carrying out their activities as planned. We use these monitoring activities as part of our oversight to identify potential areas of concern before they become problems.

Learn more about how we monitor offshore activities.

Audit and Inspections During the lifecycle of a project, our team completes regular audits and inspections. Learn more below.

Audits and inspections are completed using a risk-based approach and focus mainly on health, safety and the environment. In some cases, audits and inspections may also focus on offshore security. Our Occupational Health and Safety Officers, Operational Safety Officers, and Conservation Officers, who are designated by the federal Minister of Natural Resources, and the provincial Minister of Energy and Mines for Nova Scotia, are responsible for completing these types of audits and inspections and regularly visit offshore worksites. 

Our officers visit offshore worksites and local offices to gather information based on the scope and plan of the audit or inspection. The information they gather is compiled in a report that helps us evaluate an operator’s compliance with requirements. It also helps us determine if there are any areas of concern. If we find areas of concern, we make sure the operator is aware and takes the necessary corrective action.

We also conduct Resource Conservation and Industrial Benefits audits. This is to make sure an operator is meeting the regulatory requirements and the commitments made in their relevant plans.

See below for a list of audits and inspections that our officers have recently conducted.

Fiscal year

Details

2019-2020

April 1, 2019 - March 31, 2020

2018-2019

April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2019

2017-2018

April 1, 2017 - March 31, 2018

2016-2017

April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2017

2015-2016

April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2016

2014-2015

April 1, 2014 - March 31, 2015

2013-2014

April 1, 2013 - March 31, 2014

2012-2013

April 1, 2012 - March 31, 2013

 

ReportsReports help us stay informed on offshore oil and gas activities taking place in our offshore area. Learn more here.

Operators are required to submit reports detailing the status of their offshore activities. Reports are submitted daily, monthly, quarterly, and annually, depending on the type of report. The types of reports submitted for each activity will vary based on the environment, regulatory requirements and conditions placed on the Activity Authorization. Some of the types of reports we receive for a production activity include:

  • Operations reports (daily)
     
  • Activity reports (weekly)
     
  • Production reports (monthly)
     
  • Incident statistic reports (quarterly)
     
  • Environmental effects monitoring reports (annually)
     
  • Regulatory query reports (annually)
     
  • Safety reports (annually)
     
  • Industrial benefits reports (annually)

We review the reports we receive in detail to identify areas of concern and to ensure compliance with requirements. If any compliance issues are noted, we require the operator to take action to make sure the concerns are dealt with in a timely manner. 

Incident Reporting

Operators must notify us of all reportable incidents and events that occur while conducting offshore oil and gas activities. This includes incidents that may take place on the water or in the air. For each incident reported to us, we verify that the operator has taken the appropriate actions to determine the cause of the incident and to identify and then implement the necessary corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence. Learn more about incident reporting in our Health,Safety & Environmental Performance section.

Workplace Committee Minutes

We routinely review minutes from workplace committee meetings held on offshore worksites to ensure that health and safety matters raised through this forum are dealt with appropriately by an operator.

MeetingsMeetings provide us with a forum to have open discussions and ask operators face-to-face questions. Learn more.

We proactively and regularly meet with operators working in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area. Meetings are held to stay up-to-date on the status of operations and discuss matters of importance, such as regulatory requirements, areas of concern, audits, application submissions, etc. Additional issue specific meetings may be held depending on what’s happening offshore.

Additionally, our Chief Safety Officer, and Director, Operations, Health, Safety & Environment travel to offshore worksites to conduct management visits with the operator’s senior management team and offshore workers.

Investigations We review all incidents that occur offshore. We may independently investigate depending on the nature and severity of the incident.

Investigations help our technical experts determine what happened and why it happened, and decide if any enforcement actions are required. Issues we may investigate include:

  • Health and safety incidents
     
  • Environmental incidents
     
  • Complaints
     
  • Work refusals that occur at offshore worksites

Investigations are led by one of our officers. We have Occupational Health and Safety Officers, Operational Safety Officers, and Conservation Officers designated by Natural Resources Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, who are responsible to lead or participate in an investigation on behalf of our organization. In cases where an officer has reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed and is gathering evidence to substantiate the offence, the investigation is conducted taking into account limitations imposed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In some cases, we may jointly or concurrently conduct an investigation with other government departments or agencies depending on the incident or nature of the investigation.

Our Compliance and Enforcement Tools

Operators that do not comply with the rules and requirements set out in Accord Acts and regulations may face compliance and enforcement action. Our regulatory toolbox contains different tools we can use on a case-by-case basis to ensure operators comply with the rules and requirements. In some cases, we may apply one or more of our compliance and enforcement tools, depending on the severity and significance of the non-compliance. We can also order a company to stop work at any time if the activity is determined to be unsafe, or if it is deemed necessary in order to protect the environment.

Our regulatory toolbox for compliance and enforcement contains the following tools.

Facilitated Compliance

We maintain thorough oversight and operational awareness of offshore activities. We do this through a variety of means, including audits and inspections, routine reporting, incident reporting and review of other key documents, such as workplace committee minutes. In most cases, non-compliance issues identified by our officers that are not likely to lead to injury, illness, adverse environmental impact, or waste can be appropriately resolved by the operator. When officers raise an issue to the operator, officers require the operator to develop a corrective action plan to address the matter and complete the plan within a reasonable time frame. We refer to this approach as facilitated compliance.

The majority of the issues identified are resolved through this approach.

Orders and Directions to Comply

For specific circumstances set out in the Accord Acts, our officers have the authority to direct those responsible to take or cease actions. These circumstances are often of a more serious and/or time sensitive nature (e.g. non-compliance issues likely to lead to significant injury/illness, adverse environmental impact, or waste). A failure to take or cease action as directed, or otherwise comply with an order, is considered to be an offence under the Accord Acts and operators who are guilty could be subject to additional enforcement action.

Administrative Monetary Penalties

An Administrative Monetary Penalty is a financial penalty that we may impose, without court involvement, for the violation of a designated legislative requirement. The specific provisions subject to Administrative Monetary Penalties are described in the Accord Acts and the Administrative Monetary Penalty Regulations. The purpose of an Administrative Monetary Penalty is to further enforce compliance with the Accord Acts and associated regulations. For example, we may issue an Administrative Monetary Penalty as a consequence of a failure to address non-compliance. The Accord Acts set the maximum penalty for a violation subject to Administrative Monetary Penalties at $100,000.

For more information about our Administrative Monetary Penalties process, check our guidance document: Administrative Monetary Penalty Guidelines

Date of Notice

Regulatory Instrument 

Recipient

Description

Penalty Amount

July 12, 2019

Board Decision

ExxonMobil Canada Properties

Type B violation for contravention of Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations, Section 25(a)

$40,000

 

Prosecution in the Court System

Prosecution under the Accord Acts is a quasi-criminal process. A prosecution for an offence under the Accord Acts may begin any time within a two year period after an offence has occurred. Prosecution may be considered against a company or an individual having responsibility for an area or activity identified as being an offence under the Accord Acts. Those found guilty could be subject to fines of up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.

Suspension or Revocation of Approvals and Authorizations

As the regulator, we may issue Activity Authorizations to operators if they demonstrate to our satisfaction that they will meet the regulatory requirements and our expectations. Our Activity Authorizations have specific requirements related to compliance with safety, environmental, conservation and operational measures and requires documentation to be reviewed and approved before a program can be authorized. An operator is accountable for carrying out its activities in compliance with the legislation and any additional conditions affixed to its authorization. A systemic failure in complying with requirements and in situations where other compliance and enforcement actions have failed to achieve the intended outcomes, could give us reason to suspend or revoke an authorization, or any associated approvals relating to a program.

We have the option to consider cancelling the rights of a licence holder if they are failing or have failed to comply with the legislation or authorization requirements. Our authority to cancel a licence holders rights is a fundamental decision and is therefore subject to the federal Minister of Natural Resources and the provincial Minister of Energy and Mines review and approval process set out in legislation.