A public engagement session was held in Hay River on April 12 on proposed changes to oil and gas legislation in the NWT.
“We are basically here to share what we’re thinking of doing or updating with our oil and gas legislation,” said Menzie McEachern, director of mineral and petroleum resources with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. “That includes both the Petroleum Resources Act and the Oil and Gas Operations Act, which we inherited from the federal government back in 2014 when we went through the devolution process and gained new authorities to manage lands, water and natural resources.”
The session attracted 19 people.
McEachern said that, since devolution, the department has been familiarizing itself with the legislation.
“Over the last few years, we identified a few things that warrant updating or modernizing, and additionally some things to fit what we’ve heard from the public for priorities for updating and modernizing,” he said.
McEachern said the department doesn’t intend to rip apart the acts and start from ground zero.
“These are solid acts that work essentially for the most part,” he said. “A little bit dated in that they were first crafted in the 1980s.”
The department finished its public engagement sessions at K’atlodeeche First Nation on April 13.
Along with Hay River, that followed public sessions in Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Norman Wells, Inuvik and Yellowknife, and meetings with industry, regulators and Indigenous governments.
People still have the opportunity to offer input through an online survey or written submissions until May 4.
McEachern said one of the themes at the sessions was the need for transparency in the legislation.
“What we’re intending to do is really to be able to provide more information to the public about the sector and how it is managed,” he said.
A report will be compiled as a result of the engagement process.
McEachern said the aim is to have legislation implemented by the summer of 2019.
Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson attended the public engagement session in Hay River.
“It was a very informative session,” said Simpson. “It’s great to talk to the people who are actually working on the front line of this legislation because I have a general knowledge of the subject, but it was great to be able to drill down and get some of the details from them.”