Authorizations & Approvals

Before carrying out any work or activity respecting petroleum operations in the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, an Operator must obtain both an Operating Licence and an Authorization as specified by sections 137 and 138 of the Atlantic Accord Act. Various approvals are also required for certain activities and matters; these are described under Approvals. A centralized regulatory coordination function has been established within the C-NLOPB to ensure a consistent and timely review of applications for authorizations and approvals. Any questions related to the authorization or approval process may be directed to:

Policy and Regulatory Coordination Division
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board
Fifth Floor, TD Place
140 Water Street
St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6
Tel: (709) 778-1429

The processing of any application for authorization or approval is subject to the Board’s Cost Recovery Policy. An invoice will be sent to the Operator for this fee upon receipt of the application, except where the cost recovery fees are invoiced on a project-by-project basis. Information concerning the current cost recovery fees can be provided upon request to information@cnlopb.ca.

Authorizations

In order to obtain an authorization, the Operator must ensure that the statutory and regulatory requirements pertaining to the work or activity are satisfied. These matters pertain to:

  • Safety
  • Environment
  • Resource Management
  • Exploration
  • Legal and Land
  • Industrial Benefits

Where an Operator seeks an authorization to carry out work or activity relating to developing a pool or field, a Development Plan must first be approved, unless consent to issue the authorization is otherwise granted by both the provincial and federal governments. Exploration activities and other activities that do not involve development activities can be carried out without a Development Plan Approval.

The three types of authorizations administered by the C-NLOPB include:

  • Operations Authorization
  • Geophysical Program Authorization
  • Diving Program Authorization
Operations Authorization

An Operations Authorization (OA) may include a drilling program, a production project, well operations, or all three activities. The installation of templates and facilities, construction of excavated drill centers or other activities that do not fall under the scope of either a Diving Program Authorization (DVPA) or a Geophysical Program Authorization (GPA) may also be covered by an OA.

In the case where installation, construction or other activities involve diving operations which necessitate the issuance of a DVPA, such activities may be included in the scope of the DVPA. Therefore, a separate OA is not required.

Before the C-NLOPB can issue any of the above authorizations, the statutory requirements in the Atlantic Accord Acts must be satisfied.

In the case of drilling and production activities, the information that must accompany the application for authorization is specified in sections 6-9 of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations.

Operators are encouraged to contact the C-NLOPB at an early stage in their planning process to gain a full understanding of the application and approval process. In the case of a new Operator, contact should be made 18-24 months in advance of the planned start of the program to ensure the regulatory requirements and expectations are taken into account throughout the contracting, procurement and planning phases. In the case of a renewal of an OA, contact should be made with the C-NLOPB at least six months in advance of the expiry date. Typically, the authorization process will require a minimum of four months once a complete application is filed.

The Operations Authorization form prescribes the format of the authorization and the standard conditions attached to the authorization. The expiry date of an OA will depend on the anticipated duration of the program. For a drilling program or production project, the OA is normally issued for a maximum of three years.

Operators should also be aware that, in the case of well operations, additional approvals are required. This is explained under the Approvals section of the website.

Geophysical Program Authorization

Operators applying to undertake a seismic program, a wellsite seabed survey, vertical seismic profiling, an electromagnetic program, or any other type of geological or geophysical program, (including a program that does not involve any fieldwork), a geotechnical program or an environmental program, may obtain a Geophysical Program Authorization (GPA) by submitting an application to the C-NLOPB. For producing projects, wellsite seabed surveys and vertical seismic profiling can be addressed as part of the Operations Authorization (OA).

The process for obtaining a GPA and a description of the information to be provided in support of the application for authorization is described in the Geophysical, Geological, Environmental and Geotechnical Program Guidelines.

To expedite the application and approval process for various types of activities, one of the following forms should be used:

The various regulations, guidelines and other information pertaining to these activities are described under the Exploration section of this website.

Diving Program Authorization

A Diving Program Authorization (DVPA) may be obtained by submitting a Diving Program Authorization form to the C-NLOPB. The application should be made six months in advance of the anticipated commencement date of the program.

In addition to the various statutory and regulatory requirements pertaining to all work authorizations, the Newfoundland Offshore Area Petroleum Diving Regulations describe the information that is required to be provided in support of a DVPA.

Divers must possess a Diving Certificate issued by the Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC).

For each dive undertaken as part of a Diving Program a Notification of a Dive must be filed with the C-NLOPB.

Approvals

Approvals may involve the approval of certain documents, plans or other matters as specified by the legislation or regulations, or the approval of specific activities conducted under an authorization. Approvals include:

  • Development Plan Approval
  • Approval of a Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Benefits Plan
  • Approval of Flow System and Flow Calculation and Allocation Procedures
  • Approval to Commingle Production
  • Approval to Drill a Well
  • Approval to Alter the Condition of a Well
  • Approval of a Formation Flow Testing Program

The well approval templates provided below prescribe the form of an application to the C-NLOPB. As these templates are subject to revision from time to time, an Operator making an application to the Board should download the template directly from the Boards website.

An Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) or an Approval to Alter the Condition of a Well (ACW) is required for well operations involving drilling a well or that involves re-entering a well following completion of the scope of activities covered by the ADW, respectively. A wellsite seabed survey must be completed prior to the issuance of the ADW. Information regarding the process for obtaining approval of wellsite surveys is provided under the Geophysical Program Authorization (GPA).

Well Operations

Pursuant to the petroleum drilling and production regulations the Board has authority to grant a well approval if the operator demonstrates that the drilling of that well will be conducted safely; without waste and without pollution, in compliance with those regulations. These goal-oriented regulations require that the Operations department ensure:

  • Operators have in place systems to assess and manage risks, including the consequences of something going wrong, which should be part of the overall Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) or the Approval to Alter the Condition of a Well (ACW);
  • Operators submit either a Notification to Suspend/Abandon or a Notification to Complete prior to commencement of the well termination program;
  • That approved well operations and associated documentation, including drilling programs, reflect good oilfield practice. Good oilfield practice requires putting in place systems and procedures so that a well is constructed, operated and monitored in a way that is generally accepted as preventing the unintended escape of hydrocarbons; and
  • Operators have adequate primary and secondary containment barriers in place - as an integrated system - to secure the integrity of the well.

The responsibilities of the Well Operations include:

  • Assessing operational and safety aspects of well operations programs. This includes reviewing the adequacy of well designs, completion programs, suspension programs, plugging and abandonment programs, formation flow test programs and related policies and procedures.
  • Monitoring the progress of approved well operations to verify that good oilfield practice is, in fact, being observed
  • Participating in field audits of offshore well operations.
Approval to Drill a Well (ADW)

The ADW covers operations on the well up to, and including, the termination of the well, which itself could include suspension, abandonment or completion. If the well is to be tested, Approval of a Formation Flow Test Program is required. Any operation following the termination of a well is covered by an Approval to Alter the Condition of a Well (ACW).

In the case of a new Operator or a new project, particularly for an exploration well, early consultation with C-NLOPB staff is encouraged in the areas of well design, data acquisition and environmental protection to ensure that the Operator’s approach to these matters is consistent with regulatory requirements and expectations. In such cases, it is recommended that consultations occur six months or more prior to the submission of the ADW. These consultations may be arranged by contacting the C-NLOPB.

The ADW Template prescribes the form of the application to the C-NLOPB for an ADW.

Issuance of the ADW

The ADW process is complete when the ADW is issued to the Operator.

The ADW form prescribes the generic format of the ADW issued by the C-NLOPB. This may vary somewhat in that the conditions to be placed on the ADW may vary from well to well.

In the event that it becomes necessary to deviate from the well data acquisition program described in and approved as part of the ADW, the Operator should submit an Operational Waiver/Deviation from an Approved Well Data Acquisition Program form for the approval of the Chief Conservation Officer.

Approval to Alter the Condition of a Well (ACW)

The ACW is required for any operation that involves re-entering a well following completion of the scope of activities covered by the ADW. An ACW is not required if the planned operation is covered by the Operations Authorization (OA) or is exempted pursuant to sub-section 10(2) of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations.

The specific well operations that do or do not require an ACW are described in the Board’s Drilling and Production guidelines. Operators should consult the Board on a case-by-case basis if uncertainty exists as to whether or not an ACW is required.

The ACW Template prescribes the form of the application to the
C-NLOPB for Approval for a Well Operation.

Issuance of the ACW

The ACW process is complete when the ACW is issued to the Operator.

The ACW form prescribes the generic format of the ACW issued by the C-NLOPB. This may vary somewhat in that the conditions to be placed on the ACW may vary from well to well.

Notifications

A Notification to Abandon/Suspend or a Notification to Complete is required to be provided to the C-NLOPB no later than five working days prior to suspending, abandoning or completing any well. Prior to submitting a notification, the Operator must ensure that the logs referred in the notification are submitted to the C-NLOPB.

Well Termination

A Well Termination Record is required to be provided to the C-NLOPB within 30 days of completing the well termination operations.

Approval of a Formation Flow Testing Program

Approval of a Formation Flow Testing Program is required in accordance with section 52 of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations.

The Operator’s proposed well testing program should be submitted to the C-NLOPB for approval. The program should comply with the relevant provisions of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations. Particular scrutiny will need to be paid to safety and environmental protection matters. Operators should also refer to the Resource Management section for information respecting the data acquisition and reporting requirements pertaining to formation flow testing programs.