Enforcement Tools

The Acts provide the C-NLOPB with a number of administrative tools to force operators to comply with the Acts, regulations and conditions of Authorizations. These tools range from a simple warnings, to orders to revoking or suspending authorizations, operating licenses, production licenses, exploration liences or significant discovery licenses. The C-NLOPB can also prosecute for violation of the Acts or Regulation. Which tool is used is based upon the circumstances of the non-compliance of violation.

Warning

A Warning is intended to make the person aware of non-compliance. It does not have the legal force of an order or a direction. A Warning is issued when there are reasonable grounds to believe a person is not complying with the Act or regulations; and the suspected non-compliance is not likely to cause a serious threat to the safety of workers, serious damage to the environment or a serious threat to conservation.

Orders

Order to Comply

An Order to Comply is a direction from a Safety Officer or the Chief Safety Officer directing or ordering a person to correct a deficiency that is causing or has caused a compliance issue and which could constitute an offense. An Order to Comply may be issued when it appears a person is ignoring or slow to respond to a non-compliance or other non-compliance. An Order to Comply will be issued in writing and will include the reference to the section of the Act or regulation giving rise to the noncompliance, the reasons for issuing the Order to Comply, the conditions that must be complied with and where applicable, the process available to appeal the instruction. Failure to comply with an order of a Safety Officer or Chief Safety Officer is an offence under the Acts.

Order to Cease or Continue Operations

Pursuant to legislation, where the Chief Safety Officer or a Safety Officer is of the opinion that the continuation of an operation is likely to result in serious injury, then an “Order to Cease or Continue Operations” may be issued. In this event, the Chief Safety Officer or Safety Officer may order that the operation cease or be continued under specified conditions. Once issued, Orders must be posted in prominent locations throughout the installation.

Production Orders

Pursuant to section 153 of the Act, where the CCO, on reasonable grounds, is of the opinion that the capability exists to commence, continue or increase production of petroleum and that a production order would stop waste, the CCO may order the commencement, continuation or increase of production of petroleum at such rates and in such quantities as are specified in the order. Where the CCO, on reasonable grounds, is of the opinion that an order would stop waste, the CCO may order a decrease or the cessation or suspension of production of petroleum for any period specified in the order.

Suspending or Revoking Authorization or Operating Licences

Revocation or suspension of an operating licence or an authorization is a decision of the Board, which may be carried out where a person has failed to comply pursuant to subsection 138(5) of the Act. Such non-compliance would relate to requirements respecting operating licences, authorizations, approvals, declarations or certificates of fitness of any regulation. The Board will give particular regard where a person refuses to exercise due diligence with respect to the safety of workers, the environment, conservation matters or where other remedies have to be continually implemented to force a person to comply.

Where the CSO and/or CCO is of the opinion that there exists non-compliance in relation to safety or conservation concerns, the CSO/CCO may recommend to the Chairman that the Operator’s authorization or operating licence be revoked or suspended.

Cancellation of an Interest

The Board may take action which could result in the cancellation of an exploration, significant discovery or production licence, where the Board believes the interest owner fails to meet any requirement under Section 123 of the Act (Part II or Part III) or related regulation respecting health and safety, protection of the environment or conservation.

Where the CSO and /or CCO is of the opinion that there exists non-compliance in relation to safety, protection of the environment or conservation, the CSO/CCO may recommend to the Board Chairman that the Operator’s interest be revoked or suspended.

Any action taken by the Board in this regard however, is a fundamental decision which is subject to the approval of Ministers and is subject to a review by the Oil and Gas Committee.

Prosecution

Once the decision is made to proceed with prosecution, the matter would be referred to the appropriate Crown Prosecutor. In any case where there is any potential for criminal liability, the police would be informed in the first instance.

Assuming Control of Operations

This action could arise where the CCO can take over or direct other persons to take over the management of an operation involving a spill or giving rise to waste when reasonable steps need to be taken to stop, contain and clean up the spill or prevent waste. Assuming or directing control is contemplated when:

  • the Operator has not taken reasonable steps to mitigate a spill event; or
  • there is an immediate and serious threat to persons, the environment or property.