What is Area-based Analysis?

The Area-based Analysis (ABA) approach has been developed by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (the Commission) as a framework for managing the impacts of oil and gas development. It is a different and more effective way of characterizing landscape of unconventional gas basins to inform decisions on oil and gas applications.

The Commission uses ABA to address the long-term effects of oil and gas activity in its decision making. Various decisions involving roads, water, seismic activity, well and facility locations, and pipeline corridors cause cumulative effects to both environmental and social values. Considering effects on only a project- or sector-specific basis can allow unintended impacts to accumulate over time.

In contrast, the Commission is addressing cumulative effects of oil and gas activity through the Areabased Analysis approach to permitting and authorizing. This approach allows the Commission to manage industry activity comprehensively to protect ecological, social and cultural heritage values. The actions that will be assessed are the combined footprint impact of industrial development on the selected values. For the Commission, that means that decisions about oil and gas activities will be made with all industrial development in mind.

Area-based Analysis considers all oil and gas activities and the surface and subsurface environmental impacts, both current and potential, at the full basin scale to achieve better environmental outcomes and more effective and efficient regulation. That means that broad impacts can be considered when looking at specific applications or activities, rather than just the localized effects of one permit. It evaluates the overall landscape – including features such as existingroads, wildlife management zones and other industrial users.

It’s an approach that manages environmental values based on direction set by government. ABA gives the Commission a better picture of the cumulative and larger impact of oil and gas activities for an entire region within the overall context of all activity. This information is used when the Commission makes decisions on applications.

Area-based Analysis follows the adaptive management process – the Commission will monitor to measure impacts, and adjust the overall framework as required.