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Offshore oil and gas law

OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS LAW IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
As with most natural resources disputes, the various stakeholders in the dispute over whether to drill for oil and gas in the British Columbia offshore are as diverse as they are entrenched. With over one hundred billion dollars in buried treasure at stake, it is unsurprising that the Federal Government and the Province are sparring over who has jurisdiction and ownership of the B.C. offshore. In addition, environmental groups, industry advocates, and First Nations are all seeking to steer the policy of both levels of government. Interestingly, although the development of the B.C. offshore has been marked by decades of impasse and quagmire, a number of events have recently unfolded that seem to have injected a new energy into the dispute. Specifically, the inclusion of "Aboriginal Rights" in section 35 of Canada's constitution has has resulted in significant uncertainty over land title in British Columbia, uncertainty which the Province is moving to resolve by settling Aboriginal land claims, often by offering a stake in development. As well, despite having secured jurisdiction over most of Canada's offshore resources, the Federal Government has softened its stance on offshore jurisdiction, and offered-in the face of regional antagonism-to share in the management of offshore development with the Provinces. Lastly, the impetus for economic development and for revenues to shore up government coffers seems to be at a high point; in short, environmental concerns have taken a back seat to the allure of a potentially lucrative industry. This paper explores the positions and interests of each of the parties involved in the dispute, and-against the background of recent events-this paper speculates on the likely path of future negotiations.
The History of Offshore Drilling in British Columbia
Before surveying the current positions and interests of each of the stakeholders, i…

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