Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

Learn more about the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and its review.

September 7, 2016: The Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister's Special Representative's report, Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, is now available online.

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About the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

The Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA) was established in 1985. It is one of the main pieces of federal legislation that governs oil and gas exploration in the North and offshore.

The Act authorizes the issuance by the Crown of title rights to explore for, develop and produce petroleum in areas under federal jurisdiction that are not covered by other legislation.

It also governs the allocation of rights to explore and develop petroleum resources on frontier lands, the administration of these rights and the setting of royalties on production.

The CPRA's principles are:

Ministerial responsibility for the CPRA is divided:

As of August 2016, there are 15 exploration licenses held in the Beaufort Sea offshore region. Oil and gas rights have not been issued in the Eastern Arctic offshore since the mid-1980s.

The application of the CPRA onshore was withdrawn by the implementation of devolution agreements with the Yukon in 1993 and the Northwest Territories in 2013. The Act continues to apply in Nunavut, in most offshore areas north of latitude 60, and in the Hudson Bay area.

To learn more about the creation of the CPRA visit: Origins of the CPRA.

Highlights of the Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

The Government of Canada is committed to promoting a modern, effective and safe oil and gas regulatory regime that upholds world-class environmental standards in the North. To maintain responsible resource development and competitiveness, regular reviews of the regulatory regime are carried out.

The Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act by the Minister's Special Representative, Rowland J. Harrison, Q.C. was released on August 8, 2016. The report was presented to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett on May 30, 2016.

Visit: Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to read the full report

The report reviews the CPRA and whether or not it can promote a sustainable Arctic economy while serving the public interest.

Specifically in his review, Mr. Harrison:

In his review, Mr. Harrison concluded that the CPRA has been successful in instituting a rights issuance system that is market-driven, is responsible to industry interest and provides security of tenure. The Act also provides the Crown with full control in managing an effective oil and gas regime.

Mr. Harrison found that the Act, in its current form, meets the needs of Canadians and industry, but he also made ten recommendations to the Minister on how the Act can be clarified and improved.

These ten recommendations are:

The appointment of the Minister's Special Representative, Rowland Harrison, Q.C.

On November 26, 2015, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett confirmed Rowland Harrison, Q.C., as the Minister's Special Representative to conduct a comprehensive review of the operations of the CPRA and to lead an ongoing engagement process with Indigenous governments, organizations, stakeholders and other interested parties to determine how the Act can best contribute to the responsible development of Canada's Arctic oil and gas resource opportunities.

In addition to his extensive experience advising provincial, territorial, federal and foreign governments on energy regulation, Mr. Harrison has extensive experience as an adviser on all regulatory and constitutional aspects of oil and gas exploration in the Canadian offshore and northern frontier lands. He played a leading role in the development and enactment of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act. From 1997 to 2011, Mr. Harrison completed two full terms as a full-time board member of the National Energy Board. During that time, he was appointed by the federal Minister of Environment as a member of the Joint Review Panel for both the GSX Canada Pipeline and the Mackenzie Gas Projects. Before joining the National Energy Board, Mr. Harrison was a partner in the Calgary office of Stikeman Elliott, a national and international Canadian law firm, where he specialized in all regulatory aspects of the oil and gas industry from 1987 to 1997.

Mr. Harrison has been Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. He holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Tasmania, Australia, and a Master of Law degree from the University of Alberta, where he served for the last three years as the TransCanada Chair in Administrative and Regulatory Law. Mr. Harrison has been a member of the bars of Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta and is Co-Editor of the Energy Regulation Quarterly. He was appointed Queen's Counsel by the Government of Alberta in 2006.

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