Oil & Gas lawyers are defined in the widest sense in order to identify those firms capable of providing a full service to industry clients. As such, the practice area encompasses:
Please note that the Lexpert directory has separate practice areas for:
Oil and gas law is the set of local and national legislative statutes, together with its accompanying administrative regulations, which regulates the exploration, processing or production, transportation, marketing of crude oil and natural gas to become viable energy sources for the consumption of the public. It may be considered as part and parcel of energy law, which is more general as it covers all possible kinds or sources of energy.
There are three known stages of oil and gas law, where different laws and regulations may apply respectively.
The “upstream” is first stage which includes the actual exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Exploration is where surveys and information gathering happens to locate possible locations of oil and gas. Production, on the other hand, is where these oil and gas are brought up to the surface.
After the exploration and production of oil and gas, it goes through the “midstream” which deals with the gathering, processing, storing, and transporting, of produced oil and gas. There are many ways to transport oil and gas, such as the use of pipelines, tank trucks, rail tank cars, and transcontinental tankers.
Lastly, the “downstream” is the refining of the oil and gas from the midstream to become usable products. Once refined, downstream also deals with the actual selling and distribution of these products to the public.
Oil and gas lawyers ensure that their clients, which are companies and corporations engaged in the business of crude oil and natural gas, faithfully comply with numerous government regulations to prevent the unduly hampering of their operations. Because there may be different laws and regulations which may cover the three “streams” mentioned above, oil and gas lawyers familiarize themselves with its application, including the recent developments of applicable common law or case law which may affect the operations of their client. Oil and gas lawyers are also knowledgeable with the actual operation of these companies and corporations, from the upstream until the downstream stage.
They are engaged with even at the beginning, where part of upstream is the overall drafting and negotiations of joint exploration and production contracts, which may be between the government, or other private companies, or both. These contracts which may include until the downstream stage, may even be a different contract for midstream and downstream, depending on the parties and their agreement.
Oil and gas lawyers do not only focus on oil and gas law per se, since it will most likely overlap with other branches of law, such as environmental law or Indigenous Peoples law, where the former’s certain operations will have great impacts on the latter, having its own set of laws and regulations. It may also overlap with torts and damages, which is applicable when unfortunate events happen during any of the “streams” and when litigations ensue.
They also have to be experts on corporate law and taxation, since their clients are these large intra- or inter-national corporations, where they may also have to deal with its internal and external disputes. Hence, oil and gas lawyers are both transactional and litigious in their practice, across numerous branches of law and government regulations.
As a whole, the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) is the federal agency which regulates the energy sector in its objective of providing utilities for Canadians. The laws mentioned above, Canadian Energy Regulator Act and Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, enforced and is under the responsibility by the CER. The agency ensures the safe operations of these pipelines and other energy infrastructures with regards to the public and the workers.
In line with this, the CER regulates pipelines especially its life cycle, in addition to provincial and territorial regulations on pipelines. This also includes pipelines within Canada (inter-provincial) and those crossing borders (Canada-U.S. borders).
Mentioned above, the CER is the main agency responsible in federally regulating the oil and gas industry in Canada, applying the numerous regulations of the CER Act and Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act. Notably, there are also considerations in federally regulating the oil and gas industry, such as Canada’s environmental statutes policies such as the Water Act.
However, in addition to federal regulations, provincial and territorial approvals are also required. As such, each province and territory have their own regulators which the best oil and gas lawyers must be aware of. In Alberta, laws such as the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Public Lands Act, the Oil Sands Conservation Act, and Oil & Gas Conservation Act may apply to the oil and gas industry.
The federal law regulation the oil and gas industry in Canada is the Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act) which establishes the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER). Overall, the CER is the agency tasked with the licensing, regulation, and enforcement of laws regarding interprovincial and international matters of the oil and gas industry.
It effectively replaced the previous National Energy Board after the passage of Bill C-69 (The Modernization of the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) in June 2019. However, regulations imposed or released by the National Energy Board are still binding and are still in force.
The CER has promulgated numerous regulations which generally governs pipelines, processing plants, authorizations and obligations of permit and certificate holders, import and export, and penalties for its violations.
Specifically applicable to the marine areas under the management of the federal government, the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act is the federal law governing the upstream, midstream, and downstream of oil and gas resources found in said marine areas, which includes the licensing and authorization for these projects.
These marine areas referred to are the territorial seas and continental shelf belonging to the federal government Canada, with the exclusion of those belonging to the provinces or territories. The Act aims in promoting safety across oil and gas operations, including the mitigation of negative environmental impacts it may produce, and the conservation of these non-renewable resources.
Interested in finding the best oil and gas lawyers and their roles in the energy industry of Canada? Head down below and see the list of the best Lexpert Ranked oil and gas lawyers.