Ottawa raising offshore liability cap to $1B in Arctic, Atlantic waters

HALIFAX — The Canadian government is planning to introduce new rules to make drilling and production companies more accountable in the event of offshore spills.

HALIFAX — The Canadian government is planning to introduce new rules to make drilling and production companies more accountable in the event of offshore spills.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Halifax, said Ottawa will introduce legislation this fall to raise the liability cap for companies operating in Atlantic Canada’s offshore to $1 billion, up from the current $30 million. The liability cap in the Arctic would also increase to $1 billion from the current $40 million, he said.

“This means companies would bear up to $1 billion of responsibility for spill cleanup costs and compensation for damages whether or not they are at fault,” said Oliver.

He said the move is aimed at aligning Canada’s rules with countries such as Norway, Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The changes would also be put in place in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to make the so-called polluter-pays principle explicit in provincial legislation later this year.

Oliver said companies are currently responsible only for cleanup costs and damages with measurable economic value. He said the changes would include so-called non-use value such as damage to the environment in liability calculations.

“This will provide an additional basis for government to pursue operators and to recoup financial compensation for damages to coastlines, habitats and species.”

The minister said companies are required to prove to regulators that they have the financial ability to meet their liability.

The current minimum requirement of proof is between $250 million and $500 million, something Oliver said would be increased to $1 billion.

He said the deposits regulatory boards require, which haven’t changed since the 1980s, would also be boosted from $30 million to $100 million or companies would be allowed to pool their resources to make sure a $250-million industry fund would be available in the event of a spill.

Changes aimed at increasing transparency would permit the public release of emergency plans, safety plans and environmental effects monitoring reports through provincial offshore regulatory boards. The boards would also be given the authority to levy yet-to-be-determined fines.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said the changes would ensure safer operation in his province’s offshore.

“With the great potential in our offshore comes some risk,” he said. “The changes announced today help reduce that risk and make companies more accountable for their actions.”

Gretchen Fitzgerald, director of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada, said while an improvement, the new liability cap doesn’t go far enough. Fitzgerald said there should be no limits on liability when there’s a spill.

“If you want to go out there and play in the offshore, it’s a high-stakes game,” said Fitgerald. “These are some of the richest companies in the world and they should be able to pay.”

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read