The Rule of Capture: Its Current Status and Some Issues to Consider


  • Cecilia A. Low



This article discusses the current status of the rule of capture in Canada. Briefly stated, if Party A digs for resources on their own land and captures oil or natural gas that have migrated from Party B’s lands, the rule of capture allows Party A to reap the benefits of their efforts as the inconvenience to the neighbour cannot support a cause of action. The author begins by examining the historical origins of the rule throughout the English common law, then examines the current status of the rule by analyzing various legislation and regulations dealing with capture in several Canadian jurisdictions. Due to the large amount of economic and physical waste created by the race to drill numerous wells in order to capture resources as quickly as possible current Canadian legislation has somewhat modified the rule of capture and has created correlative rights, varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Correlative rights create a more equitable solution to allow each owner the opportunity to share in oil or gas from a single pool extending under their properties.

Author Biography

Cecilia A. Low

Sole Practitioner, Calgary, Alberta; LL.M. student, University of Calgary. The author would like to thank Nigel Bankes for his helpful comments on the drafts of this article. Any errors are the sole responsibility of the author.