British Columbia Regulatory Actions: Hydraulic Fracturing | The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission is responsible for overseeing the province’s oil and gas operations, including exploration, development, pipeline transportation and reclamation. The Commission maintains a balance between public health and safety, the environment and industry. For shale gas development, casing and cementing plans must be adequate to protect groundwater and contain fluids within the wellbore and target formation. Hydraulic fracturing operations at depths of less than 600 metres (2,000 ft) are rare in the province and closely scrutinized by the Commission. Flowback fluids must be contained by approved means and cannot be discharged to the environment. These fluids may be recycled for future use in fracturing operations, but ultimately the disposal must be via deep well injection at an approved facility.
Compliance and enforcement starts at the application phase and follows through the life of the activity to site restoration. Compliance begins with a detailed application review process. In the field, inspectors conduct site inspections to ensure requirements are being followed. Citizens have input in the regulatory process through advisory committees, and have access to permit application lists. Information on the drilling and operation of each well is subject to the confidentiality period granted under the regulation (from one month to three years) after which it is publicly available.
Legislation was modernized in 2010 to account for the growing interest in unconventional gas development. The Commission is working with other government agencies on issues related to shale gas such as water extraction, use and recycling. (Updated November 2010).