Modernization of the Indian Oil and Gas Act and Regulations

This Act and its regulations only apply to Reserve lands that have been previously designated by individual First Nations and does not apply to traditional territory or off Reserve lands.  The Indian Oil and Gas Regulations form the rules that Industry must follow when developing those resources.  The existing regulations were first enacted in 1974 with minor changes in 1995.  This is one of the major reasons for amending the oil and gas regulatory regime.  Other regimes, for example the provinces, update their rule sets on a regular basis to ensure that they are current and remain relevant to the constant changes in oil and gas development technology.  

First Nations have been involved throughout this process of amending both the Act and the Regulations.  Our involvement has been achieved through a Joint Technical Committee (JTC1), which consists of technical members from the major producing First Nations, members of the Indian Resource Council (IRC), Indian Oil and Canada (IOGC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).  The JTC1 has been provided resources to secure outside technical expertise and legal counsel to assist throughout this process.  Our involvement is governed by an agreed to terms of reference (TOR).  The TOR require IOGC to provide the JTC1 with drafting instructions (DI) for our review and in turn the JTC1 would review and request changes to the DI, based upon our experiences and expertise with on Reserve oil and gas development.  IOGC then would either make those changes or provide the JTC1 a written response as to why they didn’t make those changes. The DI would then be used by the Federal Legislative drafters to develop the actual regulations.   The draft regulations followed the same process.  After approximately 5 drafts of the regulations, the JTC1 was in the position to support the amended regulations to begin the Federal Legislative process to became law.

The regulations were split into 10 modules and will be amended on a phased approach.  The first phase contains 3 modules, First Nation Audit, Drainage and Sub-surface.  Phase 2 contains Surface, Exploration, Environment, Royalties, Money Management, Conservation and Enforcement.  Phase 3 will contain any remaining areas within the regulations that fall outside of the first two phases.  The Indian Oil and Gas Act has already been amended in 2009 and will not come in force until the Phase 1 regulations are amended and passed by the Federal Government.

Phase 1 has been approved and published in Canada Gazette Part 2 on June 26, 2019 and have come into force on August 1, 2019 along with the amend Indian Oil and Gas Act, 2009.  The IRC along with the JTC1 has developed a training package and is available to provide interested First Nations on a requested basis.  The link to view the new amended regulations is https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2019-196/index.html.   Now that Phase 1 is complete, the JTC1 has focused its efforts on the phase 2 modules beginning with the environmental module.  The module is very complex and will take some time to complete. 

For more information, please contact David Shade at IRC.