Waste Not, Want Not: "Waste" as a Tool of Resource Conservation in the Atlantic Canadian Offshore


  • Greg Moores Partner, Stewart McKelvey, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Mark Andrews In-house counsel, ExxonMobil Canada, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Amanda Whitehead Associate, Stewart McKelvey, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and Halifax, Nova Scotia.




As the Atlantic Canadian oil and gas industry continues to mature, offshore regulators face new and varied issues as they work to implement the objectives of the Atlantic Accords. Laws that were largely developed before the Atlantic Canadian offshore contained producing projects are now being applied to a diverse and evolving industry. As is often the case, laws, as expressed on paper, can prove difficult to apply to each unique set of circumstances that arises in practice.

Fundamentally, many of the powers of the Atlantic Canadian offshore regulators rely on the concept of “waste.” An offshore regulator can order a company to commence, continue, or increase production of petroleum where it is of the opinion that such an order “would stop waste.” Conversely, the regulators may order a decrease, cessation, or suspension of the production of petroleum for the same reason. In certain situations of “waste,” the Accord Acts provide for a “forced marriage” via compulsory unitization.

While “waste” is instrumental to the authority of the offshore regulators, by necessity its definition is open to some interpretation. This article will explore various interpretations of “waste,” and examine the role of waste in the Atlantic Canadian offshore regimes.