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As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, the Commission is taking steps to protect our staff, stakeholders and Indigenous communities, while maintaining operations, including emergency services.

  • All Commission offices (Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Terrace, Kelowna, Victoria, Fort Nelson, Prince George) are closed.
  • The majority of our staff are working from home and all non-essential travel has been suspended. Required meetings are being held via phone.
  • Industry emergencies can be reported to the Commission’s 24-hour emergency line at: 1-800-663-3456.
  • Further updates will be provided as circumstances warrant, and you can stay up to date by following us on social media on Twitter and Facebook.

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to assist industry stakeholders. If you have a question not on this list, please email: OGC.Communications@bcogc.ca and we will do our best to provide an answer.

Field Operations and Inspections:

1. How has COVID-19 impacted the Commission’s field operations?

The Commission continues to conduct proactive inspections of oil and gas sites in B.C., with some modified protocols to maintain social/physical distancing.

2. How can you inspect given social/physical distancing requirements?

Many oil and gas sites in B.C. are normally operated without company staff present. We are focussing our inspections on these sites. In addition, we are:

  • Working alone when safe to do so
  • Travelling one officer per truck
  • Wearing disposable gloves when opening doors on well site or facility buildings
  • Maintaining minimum two metres distance from operators or stakeholders (e.g. land owners) if encountered in the field
  • Requesting site photos from company representatives in lieu of field visits when possible
  • Suspending travel via helicopter

3. If field staff can’t interact directly with each other – how will I know if I have deficiencies?

The Commission will follow regular process in communicating inspection results to permit holders online via the KERMIT system. If further communication is required with the inspecting officer, they are available via email, smart phone, or through the KERMIT system.

4. Will you still be undertaking enforcement under current conditions?

Yes, the Commission will continue to employ enforcement tools, as appropriate.

5. What has changed regarding field presence – how do you keep surfaces clean?

In the regular inspection process, the Commission employs a ‘no touch’ approach. As such, the only surfaces touched by inspecting officers’ hands will be door and cabinet handles. To keep these surfaces clean, officers will be using disposable gloves, using a fresh set of gloves for each site.


6. Do you still have enough staff in case of an emergency?

Yes. The Commission has a large pool of trained staff able to respond to emergencies.


7. Will you be able to complete your leave to open inspections under the current circumstances?

Yes. In the event a leave to open (LTO) inspection must be completed, the inspecting office will contact company personnel to inquire about any company specific protocols that need to be followed. Social/physical distancing requirements will be followed.


8. Where do I find out about what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used by my staff?
Contact WorkSafeBC through their website.

Public Safety Canada is also seeking input from critical infrastructure owners and operators to better understand the scope of potential shortages in Canada. They are seeking input through a needs assessment survey to gather information on the quantity and types of products/equipment that is required across the essential services and functions in Canada.

9. Who do I call if I have questions or concerns?

The Commission’s Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) team can be contacted via email at C&E@bcogc.ca. Your inquiry will be routed to the appropriate personnel for response.

Permit Applications and Review

10. Given all Commission offices are closed, how will this impact on application timelines?

The Commission is continuing to actively review and make decisions on applications, and anticipating little to no change with regards to timelines for some application types. Given the current COVID-19 situation, greater flexibility in timelines may be a consideration for those applications that require consultation and engagement with other parties; however, this will be determined on an application-by-application basis.

11. Will permit reviews take longer now that there are no staff working in Commission offices?

See answer to question #10 above.

Emergency Operations


12. How has COVID-19 impacted the Commission’s emergency operations?

While the Commission’s Emergency Management team are not physically attending permit holder annual exercises, Emergency Response Plan (ERP) review meetings (drilling & completions, LTO & turn-arounds), we have made use of on-line meeting tools to maintain our oversight of these activities.

13. How can emergency management exercises be conducted with social/physical distancing requirements?

Our ability to evaluate emergency management exercises in the field has been impacted We are currently testing options to enable permit holders to conduct their exercise in a video conferencing format, and have also advised companies with upcoming exercises that we are prepared to reschedule these later in the year. As companies are required to hold an exercise each calendar year, moving the date still allows a company to be in regulatory compliance.

14. If staff can’t interact directly – how will I know if I have deficiencies?

Our team continues to review any permit holder incident and audit all emergency management plans, ensuring critical features such as resident information, emergency planning zones, and responding resources have been fully included.

15. Will you still be undertaking enforcement under current conditions?

Yes. Permit holders must be able to maintain their capacity to respond to incidents under any circumstance. Our survey of permit holders shows business continuity plans have been activated and provincial health authority directions are being followed.

16. What has changed regarding field presence – how do you keep surfaces clean?

Our emergency management team has protocols in place to support hygiene in the case where an incident demands bringing together a team of responders. We follow the processes outlined by provincial health authorities for social/physical distancing and cleaning procedures.

17. Do you still have enough staff in case of an emergency?

Yes. As part of our own business continuity plans, we have a large number of specially trained and experienced staff able to open and manage our own emergency operations centre and field support. In fact, some of these trained Commission members have been active supporting provincial COVID 19 efforts through regional Emergency Management BC centers.

18. Will you be able to complete your leave to open inspections under the current circumstances?

We have already completed one ERP review meeting as part of the leave to open process.
This was done via Skype meeting, and while there were some differences in procedure, we were satisfied that all critical aspects we normally examine were demonstrated by the permit holder.

19. How is the Commission ensuring industry can maintain essential services?
The Commission is coordinating with Emergency Management BC to identify critical issues, such as the availability of sanitizing products and medical masks. We are also confirming operators have enacted their own business continuity plans, and are fully aware of health authority direction and guidance.


20. Who do I call if I have questions or concerns?

The Commission’s phone lines will continue to be answered. Our main number for public questions, concerns and complaints is 250-794-5200, or toll-free through Enquiry BC to 1-800-663-7867. For industry self-reporting an incident, please call 1-800-663-3456.

Accessing a Commission Office for Records/Files/Core Samples/Drill Cuttings


21. Can I review a physical file held in the Fort St. John or Victoria offices?

The Commission has reinstated part-time staff resources to support requests from our industry clients. For COVID-19 safety reasons, no public access to a Commission office is
permitted at this time. You may submit a new request through the Service Desk, and a member of the Commission’s records department will scan the documentation on your behalf.
Digital copies of requested records will be provided via email or FTP. We ask that requests be limited to a reasonable volume, as much as possible.

22. What should I do with my core sample? Can I still drop it off outside the Core Lab in Fort St. John?
Please hold on to the cores you have until further notice.

23. What if I need to examine some core—can I get access to the Fort. St. John office?
Until further notice, the Core Lab will not be accepting visitors to examine core samples. This will be re-evaluated as new information regarding the current pandemic becomes available.

24. Can I still drop off drill cuttings?
Yes. There is a drop box on the west side of the Reid building in Fort St. John, accessed from the visitor parking area. Please carefully insert trays into one of the two blue drop boxes available.

Noise Assessments

25. If an in-person field noise assessment cannot be done, will the Commission accept Theoretical Noise Impact Assessments during this time?
The British Columbia Noise Control Best Practices Guideline allows for theoretical noise impact assessments based on the sources at or around the facility, which could impact noise emissions at reception within 1,500m of the facility. In cases where a permit condition requires conducting an in-person noise survey to be completed, the Commission will defer this requirement to a later time on a case-by-case basis.

26. Are any measures in place for how Noise Impact Assessments will be handled for the Farmington area should a project receive approval to proceed?
The Commission expectation is that any Noise Impact Assessments or noise surveys will follow the required direction from the provincial government on social/physical distancing as well as WorkSafeBC requirements. The Commission’s Noise Guidelines allow for conservative assumptions to be used in noise models, which includes theoretical noise impact assessments.

27. Will companies be required to complete follow-up measured Noise Impact Assessments at a later date if only a theoretical assessment has been done?
Yes, the Commission will allow for deferral of field noise surveys on a case-by-case basis.

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