Information Bulletin Number 14 - March 31, 2005
Post-construction AIAs for Oil and Gas
During the 1980s, the Archaeology Branch worked with the then Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to develop and implement a referral process for oil and gas exploration and development projects in northeastern British Columbia. This process recognized and accommodated the needs of the oil and gas industry with respect to both short turnaround times and the fact that these activities must largely be undertaken during the winter season due to operational and environmental constraints. At the same time, it was recognized that satisfactory methods for conducting archaeological impact assessments (AIAs) under winter conditions had not been developed. Given these considerations, it was decided that the only practical approach was to conduct post-construction AIAs provided that negative impacts to archaeological sites would be offset through the systematic recovery and analysis of archaeological data as a compensatory measure.
Over the last couple of years advances have been made in winter methodologies, thereby enabling AIAs to be conducted under frozen ground and snow covered conditions in advance of oil and gas developments. Methodologies for conducting AIAs during the winter season are the subject of
Information Bulletin Number 5. As noted in that Bulletin, conducting pre-construction AIAs is advantageous in that some sites that would otherwise be impacted by development activities can be identified and avoided.
While it is now possible to conduct AIAs prior to the initiation of most oil and gas activities, it is recognized that uncertainties exist in terms of the timing and location of seismic programs. It is also recognized that there is a need to consider exceptions for other development activities on a case-by-case basis. In light of these considerations, permit applications for seismic programs must now be submitted separately from applications for other oil and gas projects. For other projects, a one time exception will be made to the general rule to enable permit applicants to conduct post-construction AIAs where they have made commitments in permit applications prior to 2005. In those cases, applicants may submit a blanket permit application to complete the AIAs. In other cases where a post-construction AIA is thought to be warranted, permit applications must be submitted individually for each project. Therefore, no more blanket permits will be issued for post-construction AIAs of oil and gas exploration and development projects in northeastern British Columbia with the exception of seismic programs.