Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

May 30, 2016: Ministerial Special Representative Rowland Harrison presented his report, Review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The Minister would like to thank Mr. Harrison and all participants for their hard work. The Minister is reviewing the report and its recommendations to determine next steps. Additional information will be released when it becomes available.

The Government of Canada is committed to demonstrating to Canadians and to the world that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. This balance is no more apparent than in the North, which is home to both fragile ecosystems and tremendous economic potential.

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.  

On November 26, 2015 Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett confirmed Rowland Harrison, Q.C., as Ministerial Special Representative to conduct a comprehensive review of the operations of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (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.

Specifically, Mr. Harrison:

  • examined key legislation, regulation, policy and contractual arrangements that make up the management of Northern oil and gas
  • compared Canada's Northern petroleum management structure with equivalent  management structures in international jurisdictions with similar petroleum activities in comparable environments;
  • assessed the CPRA's contribution to achieving the original policy intent of the Government of Canada and specifically, as the legislation relates to the Arctic;
  • took into account the interests of rights holders under relevant self-government and comprehensive land claim agreements;
  • considered changes and recommendations to the management of oil and gas resources, including potential legislative amendments, in support of Canada's interests in oil and gas matters in the Arctic; and,
  • reviewed frontier lands under the responsibility of the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs with a focus on the Beaufort Sea.

Mr. Harrison can be contacted by email. Media should contact Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Quick Facts

  • The Canada Petroleum Resources Act was established in 1985.
  • The act 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.
  • As of May 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.

Biography of Ministerial Special Representative Rowland Harrison, Q.C.

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 to1997.

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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