March 21, 2005

Manitoba to revise oil and gas laws to strengthen environmental protection

WINNIPEG, MAN-Proposed amendments to Manitoba's oil and gas legislation include provisions for stronger environmental protection, aimed at ensuring sustainable development of the province's oil and gas reserves. Changes in the Oil and Gas Amendment Act and the Gas Tax Amendment Act would strengthen provisions for environmental protection related to exploration, development and production of Manitoba's oil and gas resources. For example, some applicants for well licences would be required to submit an environmental protection plan to mitigate the impacts of their activities. This plan would be subject to an interdepartmental review. The province is also proposing to increase contributions to its abandonment fund, used to take remedial action against delinquent oil and gas operations. Interest earned on deposits paid by operators, plus up to 3% of Crown oil and gas royalties, would be directed to the abandonment fund, enhancing the province's ability to respond to delinquent operators. Other proposed amendments to seizure provisions would allow the province to put seized wells into production, transfer the well to another operator, and cancel a Crown oil and gas lease. "This would help offset costs associated with the abandonment and rehabilitiation of seized operations and facilitate the transfer to another operator," explained Industry, Economic Development and Mines Minister Jim Rondeau.

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