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Regulatory responsibilities of B.C. energy regulator expanded to include hydrogen, supporting reconciliation
A natural gas well drilling rig in the Peace region of B.C.

B.C.’s oil and gas commission will soon have a new name.

The provincial energy ministry said Thursday amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act propose to rename the agency as the British Columbia Energy Regulator.

Legislative amendments also propose to expand its responsibilities to include hydrogen development and supporting reconciliation with First Nations, according to the province.

“While a patchwork of legislation and regulations exists, there is currently no cohesive regulatory framework for hydrogen production in British Columbia,” reads a release from the ministry.

“A consolidated regulator provides both a one-stop place for industry, and a consistent regulatory, safety and compliance authority for hydrogen projects from site planning to restoration.”

According to the province, there are 49 proposed hydrogen projects in B.C. worth $5 billion.

The province says the global hydrogen market is estimated to be worth more than $305 billion by 2050, and that it can "capture a significant portion" of that due to its proximity to export markets, with the potential to increase provincial GDP by $2.5 billion and create 3,750 new jobs.

"We aspire to be a global hydrogen leader, and we are serious about supporting our hydrogen sector,” said minister Bruce Ralston in a statement. “These legislative changes enable further development of our growing hydrogen industry, and help our province transition away from fossil fuels to a cleaner, low-carbon energy system."

According to the province, the board of the newly named regulator will be restructured, increasing membership from three to “a range from five to seven,” with at least one director required to be indigenous.

“The purposes of the regulator will be updated to include supporting reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and the transition to low-carbon energy,” the ministry stated.

Also on Thursday, the ministry said it was introducing legislative amendments to support regulations for the development of carbon capture and storage projects, and expand liability provisions for orphan well sites.

In 2020, the province scrubbed mention of “petroleum resources” from the official name of the ministry, changing it formally from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.

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