Skip to main content

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, the Regulator is taking steps to protect our staff, stakeholders and Indigenous communities, while maintaining operations, including emergency services.

DATE ISSUED: April 3, 2020

UPDATED: August 6, 2020

  • All Regulator offices (Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Terrace, Kelowna, Victoria, Fort Nelson, Prince George) are closed.
  • The majority of our staff are working from home and all non-essential travel has been suspended. Required meetings are being held via phone.
  • Industry emergencies can be reported to the Regulator’s 24-hour emergency line at: 1-800-663-3456.
  • Further updates will be provided as circumstances warrant, and you can stay up to date by following us on social media on Twitter and Facebook.

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to assist industry stakeholders. If you have a question not on this list, please email: and we will do our best to provide an answer.

Field Operations and Inspections:

1. How has COVID-19 impacted the Regulator’s field operations?

The Regulator continues to conduct proactive inspections of oil and gas sites in B.C., with some modified protocols to maintain social/physical distancing.

2. How can you inspect given social/physical distancing requirements?

Many oil and gas sites in B.C. are normally operated without company staff present. We are focusing our inspections on these sites. In addition, we are:

  • Working alone when safe to do so
  • Travelling one officer per truck, where possible
  • Wearing disposable gloves when opening doors on well site or facility buildings
  • Maintaining minimum two metres distance from operators or stakeholders (e.g. land owners) if encountered in the field
  • Requesting site photos from company representatives in lieu of field visits when possible.

3. If field staff can’t interact directly with each other – how will I know if I have deficiencies?

The Regulator will follow regular process in communicating inspection results to permit holders online via the KERMIT system. If further communication is required with the inspecting officer, they are available via email, smart phone, or through the KERMIT system.

4. Will you still be undertaking enforcement under current conditions?

Yes, the Regulator will continue to employ enforcement tools, as appropriate.

5. What has changed regarding field presence – how do you keep surfaces clean?

In the regular inspection process, the Regulator employs a ‘no touch’ approach. As such, the only surfaces touched by inspecting officers’ hands will be door and cabinet handles. To keep these surfaces clean, officers will be using disposable gloves, using a fresh set of gloves for each site.

6. Do you still have enough staff in case of an emergency?

Yes. The Regulator has a large pool of trained staff able to respond to emergencies.

7. Will you be able to complete your leave to open inspections under the current circumstances?

Yes. In the event a leave to open (LTO) inspection must be completed, the inspecting office will contact company personnel to inquire about any company specific protocols that need to be followed. Social/physical distancing requirements will be followed.

8. Where do I find out about what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used by my staff?
Contact WorkSafeBC through their website.

Public Safety Canada is also seeking input from critical infrastructure owners and operators to better understand the scope of potential shortages in Canada. They are seeking input through a needs assessment survey to gather information on the quantity and types of products/equipment that is required across the essential services and functions in Canada.

9. Who do I call if I have questions or concerns?

The Regulator’s Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) team can be contacted via email at C& Your inquiry will be routed to the appropriate personnel for response.

Permit Applications and Review

10. Given all Regulator offices are closed, how will this impact on application timelines?

The Regulator is continuing to actively review and make decisions on applications, and anticipating little to no change with regards to timelines for some application types. Given the current COVID-19 situation, greater flexibility in timelines may be a consideration for those applications that require consultation and engagement with other parties; however, this will be determined on an application-by-application basis.

11. Will permit reviews take longer now that there are no staff working in Regulator offices?

See answer to question #10 above.

Emergency Operations

12. How has COVID-19 impacted the Regulator’s emergency operations?

The Regulator’s ability to respond to incidents and support emergency operations is unaffected by COVID 19. Our teams have been supplied with appropriate personal protective equipment for both field responders and emergency operations center staff. All public health directives, including social distancing can be met without any impact on our capabilities, and recent improvements in video conferencing services enable technical experts to even more effectively engage from any location.

13. How can emergency management exercises be conducted with social/physical distancing requirements?

Our ability to evaluate emergency management exercises in the field continues to be partially impacted. While conducting of exercise in a video conferencing format has been effective and will continue to be an option, our team members have been assessing each site, and when social distancing and other precautions are in place, in-person attendance has been restored.

As the impacts of COVID have evolved, and commensurate public heath directives change, we continue to advise companies with upcoming full-scale exercises that we are prepared to allow permit holders to conduct functional exercises to meet their 2020 requirement, with the major exercise deferred to 2021.

14. If staff can’t interact directly – how will I know if I have deficiencies?

Our team continues to review any permit holder incident and audit all emergency management plans, ensuring critical features such as resident information, emergency planning zones, and responding resources have been fully included.

15. Will you still be undertaking enforcement under current conditions?

Yes. Permit holders must be able to maintain their capacity to respond to incidents under any circumstance. Our survey of permit holders shows business continuity plans have been activated and provincial health authority directions are being followed.

16. What has changed regarding field presence – how do you keep surfaces clean?

Our emergency management team has protocols in place to support hygiene in the case where an incident demands bringing together a team of responders. We follow the processes outlined by provincial health authorities for social/physical distancing and cleaning procedures.

When visiting a field location, we review a permit holder’s COVID protocols, and ensure they are also following provincial health guidance.

17. Do you still have enough staff in case of an emergency?

Yes. As part of our own business continuity plans, we have a large number of specially trained and experienced staff able to open and manage our own emergency operations centre and field support. In fact, some of these trained Regulator members have been active supporting provincial COVID 19 efforts through regional Emergency Management BC centers.

18. Will you be able to complete your leave to open inspections under the current circumstances?

Yes, we have already completed a number of ERP review meeting as part of the leave to open process.
These have been done both in person, and via video meeting, and while there were some differences in procedure, we are satisfied that all critical aspects we normally examine have been demonstrated by the permit holders.

19. How is the Regulator ensuring industry can maintain essential services?
The Regulator is coordinating with Emergency Management BC to identify critical issues, such as the availability of sanitizing products and medical masks. We are also confirming operators have enacted their own business continuity plans, and are fully aware of health authority direction and guidance.

20. Who do I call if I have questions or concerns?

The Regulator’s phone lines will continue to be answered. Our main number for public questions, concerns and complaints is 250-794-5200, or toll-free through Enquiry BC to 1-800-663-7867. For industry self-reporting an incident, please call 1-800-663-3456.

Accessing a Regulator Office for Records/Files/Core Samples/Drill Cuttings

21. Can I review a physical file held in the Fort St. John or Victoria offices?

The Regulator has reinstated part-time staff resources to support requests from our industry clients. For COVID-19 safety reasons, no public access to a Regulator office is
permitted at this time. You may submit a new request through the Service Desk, and a member of the Regulator’s records department will scan the documentation on your behalf.
Digital copies of requested records will be provided via email or FTP. We ask that requests be limited to a reasonable volume, as much as possible.

22. What should I do with my core sample? Can I still drop it off outside the Core Lab in Fort St. John?
Please hold on to the cores you have until further notice.

23. What if I need to examine some core—can I get access to the Fort. St. John office?
Until further notice, the Core Lab will not be accepting visitors to examine core samples. This will be re-evaluated as new information regarding the current pandemic becomes available.

24. Can I still drop off drill cuttings?
Yes. There is a drop box on the west side of the Reid building in Fort St. John, accessed from the visitor parking area. Please carefully insert trays into one of the two blue drop boxes available.

Noise Assessments

25. If an in-person field noise assessment cannot be done, will the Regulator accept Theoretical Noise Impact Assessments during this time?
The British Columbia Noise Control Best Practices Guideline allows for theoretical noise impact assessments based on the sources at or around the facility, which could impact noise emissions at reception within 1,500m of the facility. In cases where a permit condition requires conducting an in-person noise survey to be completed, the Regulator will defer this requirement to a later time on a case-by-case basis.

26. Are any measures in place for how Noise Impact Assessments will be handled for the Farmington area should a project receive approval to proceed?
The Regulator expectation is that any Noise Impact Assessments or noise surveys will follow the required direction from the provincial government on social/physical distancing as well as WorkSafeBC requirements. The Regulator’s Noise Guidelines allow for conservative assumptions to be used in noise models, which includes theoretical noise impact assessments.

27. Will companies be required to complete follow-up measured Noise Impact Assessments at a later date if only a theoretical assessment has been done?
Yes, the Regulator will allow for deferral of field noise surveys on a case-by-case basis.