--> Abstract: Obtaining Approval to Conduct Marine Seismic Exploration Offshore Nunavut (Canadian Eastern Arctic), by T. LaPierre; #90096 (2009)

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Obtaining Approval to Conduct Marine Seismic Exploration Offshore Nunavut (Canadian Eastern Arctic)

Tony LaPierre
RPS Energy, Halifax, NS, Canada.

Obtaining modern marine geophysical data is one of the first steps in exploring offshore in the Arctic. This talk shares the knowledge gained from working of secure permits for marine seismic offshore Nunavut in 2008. Nunavut means "our land" in the Inuit language, Inukituk. It is the largest and newest territory of Canada comprises most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Baffin Bay offshore Nunavut was the focus of this work.

This paper is an overview of the regulatory processes followed to obtain authorization to acquire seismic data offshore Nunavut. Of particular importance is the number of regulatory agencies and processes which have to be followed. Once understood and followed the processes are effective and efficient. The lessons may be directly applied by other firms involved in planning exploration in the Canadian Eastern Arctic.

The permitting for this project required screening from both the Territorial (Nunavut Impact Review Board, NIRB) and the Federal (National Energy Board, NEB) agencies. The responsibility for the authorization of geophysical programmes in Canada's Arctic rests with the NEB. An important consideration for permitting offshore Nunavut is a feature called the Outer Land Fast Ice Zone (The Zone). The Zone is defined in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement (NLCA) and sees a portion of territory offshore as being part of the lands of Nunavut. Marine exploration activities in or near the zone fall are subject to review by the NIRB.

From the Federal side the Canada Oil and Gas Geophysical Operations Regulations are administered by the NEB under the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act. The NEB is also the lead responsible authority and co-ordinates the EIA process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Approvals are required on project Northern Benefits from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Natural Resources Canada. Each of these departments have jurisdiction over different areas of the offshore regarding benefits.

An important lesson learned was the importance of understanding the regulator processes and the role of consults with the Hunter and Trapper Organizations (HTOs). Issues which were addressed included proximity of the survey area to harvesting areas, sensitive areas, commercial fisheries, and species at risk. Having Inuit environmental observers and fisheries observers alongside the marine biologists built trust and understanding and helped make the project a success.


AAPG Search and Discover Article #90096©2009 AAPG 3-P Arctic Conference and Exhibition, Moscow, Russia