Ensuring that offshore activity can be done in an environmentally responsible manner without significant adverse environmental impacts is paramount in every decision we make. We have a strong team of technical professionals with the necessary expertise focused on the environmental protection of the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area.
Experience in the Field
Dena has over 20 years of experience in the oil and gas, health, safety, and environment fields. She leads our Operations, Health, Safety & Environment Team, which includes two Environmental Advisors who have extensive training and hands-on experience in marine biology, environmental impacts and assessments, spill response and fisheries issues.
When it comes to protecting the marine environment, we make every effort to ensure that every operator working in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area has taken all the necessary steps to demonstrate how they will carefully and responsibly perform offshore activities to avoid or minimize impacts to the environment.
Maintaining active participation on forums and committees dedicated to ensuring the most up-to-date science is understood and applied to our work is a top priority for us, with particular focus on spill prevention, the effects of marine sound on the marine environment, and species at risk protections. Maintaining and developing relationships with other government departments involved in marine protection, across Canada and worldwide, plays a key role in identifying continuous improvement opportunities.
Operators must submit certain documents before they can receive our authorization to work in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area. Some of the environmental requirements include:
- Where required by legislation or as we otherwise deem necessary, completing an acceptable and robust Environmental Assessment that properly identifies environmental risks and includes commitments to mitigation that address any associated effects and interactions, well in advance of project commencement
- Development of an Environmental Protection Plan for drilling and production programs to set out the procedures, practices, resources and monitoring necessary to manage the hazards identified in the project-specific Environmental Assessment. Environmental Protection Plans must include provisions for management of all waste generated during the operation
- Preparation of an Oil Spill Response Plan, supported by spill trajectory modelling and a net environmental benefits analysis (as appropriate), that sets out notification processes, roles and responsibilities, resources of concern (e.g., marine mammals, special areas, fisheries) and procedures for spill containment and clean-up
- Committing to ongoing environmental reporting for our review. These reports are submitted and analyzed by us throughout the lifecycle of the project on a regular basis
- Committing and adhering to our detailed environmental guidelines, including our Offshore Chemical Selection Guidelines, Offshore Waste Treatment Guidelines, Geophysical, Geological, Geotechnical and Environmental Program Guidelines, and our Offshore Physical Environmental Guidelines
Operators must demonstrate the ability to carefully and responsibly perform offshore activities with minimal effects on the marine environment and this must be demonstrated to our satisfaction. All documents related to environmental protection that are included in activity authorization applications must be accepted prior to our issuance of an Activity Authorization.
Once we issue an authorization, our role moves to monitoring and compliance. Our Monitoring and Compliance program holds the operator accountable to the approved plans and procedures, commitments, regulatory requirements and conditions of approval/authorization that are in place to protect the environment during the lifecycle of their activity. We have designated officers with the necessary authorities to address situations of regulatory noncompliance. Enforcement actions may include: facilitated compliance, issuance of orders (including the shutdown of operations), directives or notices, Administrative Monetary Penalties, suspension or revocations of approvals and authorizations and prosecution in the court system.
Some of the tools we use for monitoring and compliance include:
- Regular environmental compliance audits and inspections at offshore worksites and local offices
- Review of operators reports that detail the status of their work programs, along with other documentation that demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements
- Mandatory incident reporting, including spills to the sea and unauthorized discharges
- Tracking and trends analysis of spills and other offshore environmental incidents
- Understanding offshore incidents that happen in other jurisdictions, gathering and implementing lessons learned from these incidents
- Ongoing environmental effects monitoring by operators to report on the effects of oil and gas activities on specific components of the surrounding marine environment (reports are submitted to us throughout the year)
Environmental Effects Monitoring programs are required for all development projects, and certain exploration activities. Together with the Impact Assessment Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada, we developed an Environmental Effects Monitoring Coordination Framework to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the governments, industry and us in successfully designing, implementing and reviewing Environmental Effects Monitoring programs.
Learn more about our environmental focuses.
As part of the authorization process, an environmental assessment is required. This helps to identify potential impacts that need to be considered before an authorization is granted and mitigation measures to avoid or minimize these impacts and their consequences. Learn more.
When considering an authorization for approval, we ensure that any proposed offshore oil and gas activity will be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner, with specific consideration for proposed activity within special areas. Learn more.