Jurisdictional Problems in Canada's Offshore


  • K. Beauchamp
  • M. Crommelin
  • A. R. Thompson




Energy Law, Petroleum Law


As oil and gas exploration activities are beginning to concentrate in offshore regions, it is inevitable that two major problems will be encountered: (1) international boundaries; and (2) federal-provincial control over offshore resources. The authors devote the first part of their paper to discussion of the first problem. They analyze the historical origin of offshore rights; current international law on the subject; various methods of determining boundaries; followed by detailed examination of six of Canada's present boundary disputes and the corresponding position taken by the concerned countries in each case. The latter part of the paper is devoted to the federal-provincial issue, concentrating on constitutional aspects, resource sharing, and admin istration of the offshore operation. The authors critically analyze the Offshore Minerals Reference case, and proceed to comparative study between Canada, Australia, and the United States with respect to the control, development and exploitation of offshore resources. The federal offer to the provinces, consisting of arbitrary boundaries for purposes of administration, is critically evaluated and rejected. In its place, the authors propose some viable alter natives. Finally, the applicability of ancillary federal and provincial laws to the offshore region is examined.