Onshore Petroleum Geophysical Exploration Regulations
made under Section 29 of the
Energy Resources Conservation Act
R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 147
and Section 27 of the
Petroleum Resources Act
R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 342
O.I.C. 2000-73 (February 23, 2000), N.S. Reg. 24/2000
as amended to O.I.C. 2015-98 (March 31, 2015, effective April 1, 2015), N.S. Reg. 98/2015
1 These regulations may be cited as the Onshore Petroleum Geophysical ExplorationRegulations.
2 (1) In these regulations,
(a) “Acts” means the Energy Resources Conservation Act and the PetroleumResources Act;
(b) “Administrator” means a person designated by the Minister pursuant toSection 4 of these regulations and includes an acting administrator;
(c) “Authority to Explore” means an authority granted by the Administratorpursuant to these regulations to conduct certain exploration on specified lands;
(d) “Board” means the Energy and Mineral Resources Conservation Boardestablished by the Energy Resources Conservation Act and includes a personwho is delegated duties or responsibilities of the Energy Board pursuant toSection 12 of that Act;
(e) “cut line” means a trail cleared of vegetation for the purpose of conducting anexploration survey;
(f) “energy source” means a power source that is used to generate energy for thepurpose of obtaining geophysical information;
(g) “exploration” means a geophysical operation on or over land or water todetermine geologic conditions underlying the surface of land or water and anoperation that is preparatory to or otherwise connected with the geophysicaloperation that, in the opinion of the Administrator, has the potential to causesurface disturbance;
(h) “explorer” means the holder of an Authority to Explore and employees,contractors, agents or anyone carrying out exploration or work related toexploration for or on behalf of the holder;
(i) “heritage object” means heritage object as defined in the Special PlacesProtection Act;
(j) “marine lands” means submerged lands not administered or managed by theCanada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, including but not limited toSt. George’s Bay, Chedabucto Bay, and the Minas Basin;
(k) “Minister” means the Minister of Energy;
[Note: the reference to the Minister has been updated in accordance with Order in Council 2002-286 underthe Public Service Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 376, effective June 17, 2002.]
(l) “non-exclusive survey” means a geophysical operation that is conducted toacquire data for the purpose of sale, in whole or in part, to the public;
(m) “offshore area” means offshore area as defined in the Canada-Nova ScotiaOffshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act;
(n) “petroleum” means petroleum as defined in the Petroleum Resources Act;
(o) “public lands” means land of the Crown in right of the Province of NovaScotia, but does not include mines and minerals or a public highway or publicroad;
(p) “recording” means the process by which exploration data is obtained orretrieved from an energy source;
(q) “right holder” means the holder of a right granted pursuant to the PetroleumResources Act or regulations made under that Act;
(r) “shothole” means a hole drilled or a trench made for the purpose of detonatingan explosive charge for the purpose of obtaining geophysical information;
(s) “sourcepoint” means the surface location at which an energy source isdeployed;
(t) “survey monument” means a post, stake, pin, mound of rock or other material,pit, trench or any other thing used to mark a triangulation point.
Application of regulations
3 (1) These regulations apply to exploration for petroleum, including exploration by aright holder and a person conducting a non-exclusive survey.
(2) Despite subsection (1), these regulations do not apply to the following kinds ofexploration:
(a) the drilling of an exploration well, a delineation well, or a development well asthey are defined in the Petroleum Resources Regulations;
(b) an operation conducted to determine or evaluate the presence, extent, nature orquality of coal, surface material or water;
(c) prospecting by hand-held implements that, in the opinion of the Administrator,does not cause significant surface disturbance;
(d) operations conducted in the offshore area except for the Donkin coal block, asdefined in the Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity Act (Canada); and
Clause 3(2)(d) amended: O.I.C. 2008-143, N.S. Reg. 121/2008.
(e) taking soil, rock or geochemical samples of not more than 20 kg from asample location.
4 (1) The Minister shall designate an Administrator to administer these regulations.
(2) All duties and functions of the Minister as prescribed in the Petroleum ResourcesAct and these regulations with respect to exploration are delegated to theAdministrator.
5 Pursuant to Section 12 of the Energy Resources Conservation Act, the Governor inCouncil approves the delegation by the Board to the Administrator of the powers, duties orauthorities conferred or imposed upon the Board under the Energy ResourcesConservation Act to administer and enforce these regulations.
6 No person shall explore for petroleum except in accordance with a valid Authority toExplore.
7 (1) Every explorer shall ensure that exploration for petroleum is conducted in a prudentand reasonable manner, consistent with good petroleum exploration practices.
(2) It shall be deemed to be a condition of every Authority to Explore that the exploreragrees to indemnify and save harmless the Province from any and all claims,demands, losses or damages from death, actions or suits that may arise out of or as aresult of anything done in the carrying out of exploration conducted under anAuthority to Explore.
8 (1) The Administrator may make an Authority to Explore conditional upon the explorerproviding financial security,
(a) in the amount and form specified by the Administrator; and
(b) made payable to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board or such otherperson designated by the Administrator.
[Note: The reference to the Minister of Finance has been updated in accordance with Order in Council 2013-348 under the Public Service Act, R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 376, effective October 22, 2013.]
(2) In assessing the need for and fixing the amount of financial security pursuant tosubsection (1), the Administrator shall have regard to the content, circumstances andnature of the exploration and the location of the area to be explored.
(3) Where, in the opinion of the Administrator, exploration for which financial securityhas been furnished under subsection (1) is not being conducted in compliance withthe Acts, these regulations or the conditions of the Authority to Explore, theAdministrator shall
(a) give notice of non-compliance to the explorer and the explorer shall have 24hours or such other time period prescribed by the Administrator to remedy thebreach, default or non-compliance without forfeiting the financial security;
(b) if, in the opinion of the Administrator, the explorer has not remedied [to] thebreach, default or non-compliance after the period specified in clause (a), thefinancial security will be forfeited to the Province; and
(c) expend such portion of the financial security as is necessary to remedy thebreach, default or non-compliance.
(4) When the Authority to Explore has expired or the explorer has given notice thatexploration has been completed and the Administrator is satisfied that the explorerhas complied with the Acts, these regulations and the Authority to Explore, theAdministrator shall refund to the explorer the financial security or such portion of thefinancial security not expended pursuant to subsection (3).
Application for Authority to Explore
9 (1) The Administrator may prescribe a form for an application for an Authority toExplore.
(2) A person may apply for an Authority to Explore by submitting to the Administrator3 copies of an application and a map on a scale of 1:50 000, or other scale approvedby the Administrator,
(a) showing the location of
(i) the area that will be explored by reference to reservations,
(ii) public highways and public roads and other roads and trails that will beused to gain access to the area that will be explored,
(iii) existing cut lines that will be utilized to acquire data during theexploration or to gain access to the area to be explored,
(iv) new cut lines proposed to be cut during the exploration to acquire data orgain access to the area to be explored, and
(v) campsites proposed to be constructed or used during the exploration;
(b) identifying proposed seismic lines on which exploration data is to be acquiredby number or letter and showing the relationship of proposed seismic lines toexisting wells and previously acquired seismic lines of the applicant; and
(c) including a legend or attachment
(i) indicating to the extent possible the length in kilometres of trails, existingcut lines and new cut lines referred to respectively in subclauses (a)(ii),(iii) and (iv),
(ii) indicating the method, technique and equipment to be employed in theprogram of exploration,
(iii) stating the name and address of the person who will conduct orauthorize the exploration to be undertaken on behalf of the right holder,
(iv) stating whether the equipment to be used in the program of explorationwill be tracked, wheeled, or airborne, and
(v) stating the expected dates of commencement and of completion ofrecording in the field.
(3) An application for an Authority to Explore shall be submitted not less than 45 daysbefore the commencement date of field activities.
(4) An application for an Authority to Explore shall be accompanied by a non-refundable application fee of $124.65.
Subsection 9(4) amended: O.I.C. 2015-96, N.S. Reg. 98/2015.
(5) The Administrator may bill the applicant for all costs and expenses in excess of$124.65 incurred directly by the Administrator to process an application and theapplicant shall pay the amount before an Authority to Explore is issued.
Subsection 9(5) amended: O.I.C. 2015-96, N.S. Reg. 98/2015.
Disposition of application
10 (1) Upon receipt of an application pursuant to Section 9, the Administrator may
(a) require an applicant to submit any additional information that theAdministrator considers necessary;
(b) issue an Authority to Explore to the applicant, subject to such terms andconditions as the Administrator prescribes; or
(c) refuse to issue an Authority to Explore to the applicant.
(2) If the Administrator refuses to issue an Authority to Explore, the Administrator shalladvise the applicant in writing of the decision together with reasons.
Administrator to endorse application
11 (1) Where the Administrator grants an Authority to Explore, the Administrator shallendorse the application submitted pursuant to Section 9 as authorized and return 2copies to the explorer.
(2) An application submitted pursuant to Section 9 that has been endorsed by theAdministrator pursuant to subsection (1) shall constitute an Authority to Explore.
(3) The explorer shall furnish a copy of the Authority to Explore to the crew operatingequipment in the field.
(4) The copy referred to in subsection (3) shall be kept at the field headquarters until theexploration is completed.
Expiration of Authority to Explore
12 (1) Subject to subsection (2), an Authority to Explore shall be valid for a period of 1year from the date it is granted.
(2) Upon the completion of exploration field operations under an Authority to Explore,the Authority to Explore is deemed to have expired and no person shall repeat anyoperations authorized under the Authority to Explore or conduct similar operations.
Consent to explore on certain lands
13 (1) An explorer shall not conduct exploration on
(a) lands privately owned or occupied except with the consent of the personhaving lawful possession of the land or an agent of that person;
(b) lands owned by the Crown in right of the Government of Canada, except withthe consent of the appropriate department or agency of the Government ofCanada or of a person authorized by the appropriate department or agency togive the consent;
(c) public lands
(i) under the administration of a Minister of the Crown in right of theProvince of Nova Scotia, except with the consent of the Minister havingthe administration of those lands,
(ii) that form part of a public highway or public road except with the consentof the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal,
(iii) under the administration of an agency, board or commission of theCrown in right of the Province of Nova Scotia, except with the consentof that agency, board or commission, and
(iv) that are occupied, except with the consent of the holder of thedisposition to which the lands are subject.
(2) Despite clause (1)(a), where
(a) the exploration to be conducted entails the cutting of trees or the commissionof waste on the land; and
(b) the person in lawful possession does not have legal authority to authorize thecutting of the trees or the commission of waste on that land,
no person shall conduct exploration of that land except with the consent of the legalowner of the land or an agent of the legal owner.
(3) Subsections (1) and (2) shall not be construed as removing the necessity to obtain aconsent to conduct exploration on any land from any person not referred to in thosesubsections, if the consent of that person is required by law.
Obligations under Authority to Explore
14 No explorer shall
(a) conduct exploration except in accordance with the Acts and these regulations;
(b) conduct exploration otherwise than in accordance with the Authority toExplore; or
(c) in conducting exploration make a cut line or otherwise cut, destroy or damageforest growth or other natural growth at a location other than where authorizedin the Authority to Explore.
Location of field headquarters
15 (1) The explorer shall inform the Administrator of the location of the field headquartersof the crew conducting the exploration.
(2) The explorer shall inform the Administrator in advance of any change in location ofthe field headquarters referred to in subsection (1).
16 (1) The explorer shall allow the Administrator or an agent or representative of theAdministrator to inspect anything done in relation to the Authority to Explore.
(2) The explorer shall assist the Administrator, agent or representative in carrying out aninspection under subsection (1).
(3) Reasonable costs or expenses incurred by the Administrator, agent or representativeunder subsections (1) and (2) shall be paid by the explorer.
Suspension/revocation of Authority to Explore
17 (1) Where the Administrator believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person
(a) has contravened or will contravene
(i) the Acts,
(ii) these regulations,
(iii) a term or condition of an Authority to Explore issued to the explorer, or
(iv) a provincial or federal enactment; or
(b) is conducting exploration that has not been authorized by an Authority toExplore,
the Administrator may suspend or terminate the Authority to Explore.
(2) The Administrator shall give the explorer prior notice of the suspension ortermination of the Authority to Explore and a reasonable time period to remedy thebreach or default.
(3) Immediately upon suspension or termination of an Authority to Explore pursuant tosubsection (2), the Administrator shall give notice in writing to the explorer togetherwith reasons for the suspension or termination of the Authority to Explore.
(4) The Administrator may reinstate an Authority to Explore at any time theAdministrator considers appropriate to do so.
(5) Despite subsections (2) and (3), if the explorer holds a petroleum right that issuspended or terminated, an Authority to Explore issued to the explorer under theseregulations is automatically suspended or terminated with no notice required underthese regulations.
18 (1) During the time when exploration activity is being conducted, the explorer shall at48-hour intervals provide the Administrator with a verbal summary of
(a) exploration that has been conducted during the past 48 hours; and
(b) exploration that is planned for the next 48 hours.
(2) At weekly intervals, an explorer shall provide the Administrator with a writtensummary of the exploration that has been conducted during the past week.
19 Within 45 days after completion of the exploration under an Authority to Explore, theexplorer shall file with the Administrator a map on a scale of 1:50 000, or other scaleapproved by the Administrator,
(a) showing the location of
(i) the area that was explored by reference to reservations,
(ii) public roads and other roads and trails that were used to gain immediateaccess to the area that was explored,
(iii) existing cut lines that were utilized to acquire data during theexploration, or to gain access to the area to be explored,
(iv) new cut lines that were cut during the exploration for the purpose ofacquiring data or gaining access to the area that was explored,
(v) detours constructed for exploration equipment during the exploration andindicating their length in metres,
(vi) campsites constructed or used during the exploration and the size of thecampsites,
(vii) stations or places at which samples or measurements were obtained orholes were drilled in the course of exploration,
(viii) the beginning and the end of each line in the program of exploration andevery shothole or sourcepoint in each line in the program and its number,and
(ix) locations of all shotholes containing misfired or unexploded charges; and
(b) showing the name and address of the person who conducted the exploration.
20 If a heritage object is discovered during the course of exploration, the explorer shallsuspend operations in the immediate area and shall notify the Administrator and the NovaScotia Museum of Natural History.
Marking of shotholes and sourcepoints
21 (1) An explorer shall mark each sourcepoint or shothole with a weather-resistant tag onwhich is engraved or impressed in letters at least 0.5 cm high
(a) the number of the petroleum right issued under the Petroleum Resources Act;and
(b) the line number and the number of the sourcepoint or shothole.
(2) The tag referred to in subsection (1) shall be
(a) approximately 6 cm long and 3 cm wide;
(b) of a conspicuous colour;
(c) affixed facing the sourcepoint or shothole at a distance of not more than 10 mfrom the sourcepoint or shothole; and
(d) on the same side of a road or highway as the sourcepoint or shothole.
(3) No person shall remove a tag installed under these regulations without the writtenconsent of the explorer or the Administrator.
Distance restriction for energy source
22 An explorer shall ensure that no person performing exploration under an Authority toExplore conducts a method of exploration within separation distances prescribed by theAdministrator.
Energy source on roads and highways
23 (1) Subject to subsection (2), no energy source shall be operated on, no hole shall bedrilled in, and no trench shall be made on a public highway or public road, exceptwith the written consent of the Department of Transportation and InfrastructureRenewal.
(2) An energy source that does not cause surface damage may be operated on thetravelled portion of
(a) a public highway or public road subject to the direction, control andmanagement of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal,if the operator has obtained written consent of the Department ofTransportation and Infrastructure Renewal;
(b) a public road subject to the direction, control, and management of a municipalauthority, if the operator has obtained written consent of the municipalauthority.
Damage to highways or roads
24 (1) Where an explorer causes damage to, or the loss or destruction of any propertyrelated to a public highway or public road, the explorer shall
(a) immediately discontinue those operations or activities that caused the damage,loss or destruction;
(b) give notice of the damage, loss or destruction to
(i) the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in the caseof a public highway or public road subject to the direction, control andmanagement of that Department, or
(ii) the municipal authority in the case of a public road subject to thedirection, control and management of a municipality; and
(c) repair or replace the property so damaged, lost or destroyed.
(2) In subsection (1), “property related to a public highway or public road” or “property”includes
(a) a bridge or culvert forming part of a public highway or public road; or
(b) a sign, structure or traffic control device on the public highway or public roadthat is used in connection with the construction or maintenance of, or thecontrol of traffic on, the public highway or public road.
25 Where fluids are released from an aquifer or stratum and come to the surface during orafter the drilling of a shothole
(a) the drilling of the shothole shall be discontinued;
(b) no explosive charge shall be detonated in the shothole;
(c) the shothole shall be plugged without undue delay so as to confine the fluids tothe aquifer or stratum; and
(d) the explorer who has operated or authorized the operation of the explorationequipment used in drilling the shothole shall notify the Administratorimmediately, or as soon as practicable, of
(i) the location, including geographical coordinates of the shothole,
(ii) the ground elevation of the shothole,
(iii) the nature of the water or fluids, and
(iv) the depth to each aquifer or petroleum horizon encountered.
Provincial survey monuments
26 (1) Where a Provincial survey monument is damaged, destroyed, moved or alteredduring exploration, the explorer shall
(a) report the matter to the Administrator immediately, or as soon as practicable;
(b) engage a land surveyor to restore, replace or re-establish the survey monumentto the specifications set out by the Director of Surveys in the Department ofNatural Resources; and
(c) forward a copy of the plan for restoration, replacement or re-establishment tothe Director of Surveys in the Department of Natural Resources.
(2) If a survey monument referred to in subsection (1) is not restored, replaced or re-established to the satisfaction of the Director of Surveys of the Department ofNatural Resources, the Administrator may
(a) engage a land surveyor to restore, replace or re-establish the surveymonument; and
(b) recover the costs or expenses of the restoration, replacement, or re-establishment from the explorer.
27 (1) In addition to any other information that must be submitted pursuant to thePetroleum Resources Act and these regulations, an explorer who has conductedexploration pursuant to these regulations shall file with the Administrator, within 12months after the termination of the field operation, 3 copies of a final report on aform prescribed by the Administrator, and the format and content requirements shallbe as prescribed by the Administrator.
(2) Where required by the Administrator, the explorer shall submit data in digital formin a manner approved by the Administrator.
28 (1) Section 72 of the Petroleum Resources Regulations shall apply mutatis mutandis toany exclusive data and information submitted pursuant to Section 27.
(2) Non-exclusive data and information submitted to the Administrator pursuant toSection 27 shall be held confidential by the Administrator for a period of 10 yearsfollowing the date on which the exploration generating the data was completed.
29 Nothing in these regulations derogates from any enactment that imposes duties,obligations and responsibilities on the explorer, including, but not limited to, theOccupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, the Environment Act and itsregulations, and the Public Highway Act and its regulations.
30 (1) Where an explorer proposes to carry out exploration on or in respect of marine lands,the Administrator may exempt the explorer from any of the provisions of theseregulations.
(2) Where the Administrator exempts an explorer from any of the provisions of theseregulations pursuant to subsection (1), the Administrator may order that the explorercomply with any provisions of the Nova Scotia Offshore Area PetroleumGeophysical Operations Regulations, as specified in the order, and the Administratormay vary or modify any such provisions to the extent considered necessary by theAdministrator.
(3) Where the Administrator orders that an explorer comply with any provisions of the Nova Scotia Offshore Area Petroleum Geophysical Operations Regulations, thoseprovisions shall have the same force and effect as regulations made under the Acts.
31 These regulations shall come into force on, from, and after February 23, 2000.