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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Studies in government management of oil and gas resources in Canada Crommelin, Michael


Most of the unproduced oil and gas in Canada is subject to public ownership. This fact places a duty upon government to devise a management system for these resources which goes beyond the mere regulation of private rights, and ensures that the benefits from development flow to society as a whole. This dissertation consists of two related studies of government management of onshore oil and gas in Canada. The first considers the question of jurisdiction under the Canadian constitution, a prerequisite to any assignment of government responsibility for resource management. Public ownership of onshore oil and gas in Canada traditionally means ownership by the provinces. At the same time, though, both the Dominion parliament and the provincial legislatures have exclusive legislative powers which are important in the development of these resources. The limits of the legislative authority are explored, and the relationship between Dominion legislative authority and provincial resource ownership is examined. The conclusions reached regarding jurisdiction are then applied to the principal stages of oil and gas development, from the allocation of rights to private operators through exploration, production, transportation, export and pricing. The second study reviews the Alberta management system for Crown oil and gas. Again a functional approach is adopted, the system being described and evaluated in terms of its principal stages. Two criteria of efficiency and equity are employed for evaluation. Efficiency is defined as the best possible allocation of labour and capital among alternative uses, both present and future, while equity refers to the distribution of benefits and costs from oil and gas development between the Alberta government and private individuals. The review is concluded with an assessment of the problems inherent in managing publicly-owned oil and gas resources, and suggestions for improvement of the current Alberta system.

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