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Energy and Natural Resources
Energy and Natural Resources

We understand energy and natural resources – after all, the sector is a mainstay of our practice. We counsel regional, national and international firms in the oil and gas, electricity, renewable energy, forestry, fishery, and mining sectors. With us you’ll get a multidisciplinary approach, combining our experience with administrative and regulatory law, Aboriginal law, environmental law, construction law and corporate finance.


Our team has the depth of experience to provide advice on:


  • Acquisitions;
  • Aboriginal matters;
  • Approvals;
  • Constitutional rights and jurisdiction;
  • Crown royalties;
  • Dispute resolution;
  • Divestitures;
  • Environmental issues;
  • Financing;
  • Government relations and policy development;
  • Labour and employment;
  • Legislative drafting and policy advocacy;
  • Omnibus proceedings for offshore projects;
  • Permitting;
  • Pollution defence;
  • Real property;
  • Regulatory and compliance requirements;
  • Tax; and
  • Toll and rate hearings.


Click here to download our Energy and Natural Resources Brochure.

Legal Alert: The New Nova Scotia Mineral Resources Act – The Good, The Risky & The Neutral
April 21, 2016

On April 15, 2016, Bill No. 149, The Mineral Resources Act (2016) (2016 Act), passed its second reading in the NS House of Assembly. Although the 2016 Act does contain some good news for the industry, there’s some risky news too: its provisions could have a significant impact on the mining industry in Nova Scotia,

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Legal Alert: Supreme Court of Canada Decides Federal Government Has Legislative Authority Over Métis & Non-Status Indians in Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)
April 19, 2016

On April 14, 2016 the Supreme Court of Canada decided that Métis and “non-status Indians” are “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 (section 91 allocates legislative authority over certain matters to the federal government) and thus the federal government has legislative jurisdiction in respect of these populations. Here’s what the decision says,

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Legal Update: Doing Business With the Public Sector – Key Confidentiality Risks & 3 Risk Management Strategies
March 24, 2016

When a business responds to a public sector Request for Proposal or Expression of Interest (both of which we’ll refer to as an RFP for these purposes) or seeks or receives government financing (including things like payroll rebates), it’s typically providing a significant amount of business information, some or even much of it highly confidential,

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Legal Update: Construction Project Manager Sentenced to 3½ Years for Workplace Accident in R. v. Vadim Kazenelson (aka the “Metron” case)
March  9, 2016

In what appears to be the first case of the conviction of a front line supervisor under section 217.1 of the Criminal Code and sentencing to a substantial term of imprisonment, a court sentenced a front line supervisor to imprisonment for 3½ years for four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one of criminal

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Legal Update: Energy Safety and Security Act (ESSA) Effective February 26, 2016 – 7 Key Changes Toughen Up Atlantic Offshore and North Oil & Gas Regulatory Regimes
February 15, 2016

On February 26, 2016, the bulk of the offshore-related amendments of the Energy Safety and Security Act (ESSA, formerly known as Bill C-22) take effect. ESSA significantly changes the regulatory regime in the Atlantic offshore and North oil and gas sector – and ultimately creates a tougher liability regime for environmental damage in these areas.

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Legal Alert: NB Kicks-off First Request for Expressions of Interest from Aboriginal Businesses Under New Electricity from Renewable Resources Regulation
February  1, 2016

On January 29, 2016, the New Brunswick Power Corporation (NB Power) kicked-off compliance with its obligations under the new Electricity from Renewable Resources Regulation 2015-60 made pursuant to the Electricity Act by issuing the first Request for Expressions of Interest from Aboriginal Businesses under the Regulation. The Regulation doesn’t say how NB Power must carry

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Legal Update: Nova Scotia’s New Electricity Plan – 3 Key Themes
November 17, 2015

On November 9, 2015, the Province of Nova Scotia released its Electricity Plan for 2015-2040, titled Our Electricity Future: Nova Scotia’s Electricity Plan.  Here’s a snapshot of the three key themes and changes that NS electricity producers, consumers – and start-ups – can expect in the short and the long term.    1.  An Innovation

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Legal Update: The Outsiders – Ontario Court Can Hear Lawsuit for Recognition & Enforcement of Ecuador Court’s Judgment Against US Natural Resource Company & Distant Canadian Subsidiary in Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje
September 17, 2015

On September 4, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada stated unambiguously that for an Ontario court to have the jurisdiction to recognize and enforce the judgment of a foreign (i.e., any non-Ontario) court, the claimant doesn’t have to establish a “real and substantial connection” between the dispute or the judgment debtor named in the foreign

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University of Calgary, The School of Public Policy Research Paper – Canada, The Law of the Sea Treaty and International Payments: Where Will the Money Come From?
September  8, 2015

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea requires parties, of which Canada is one, to make payments in respect of oil production on their continental shelves beyond 200 miles. Canada may be the first to make these required payments – anticipated to be millions of dollars annually. In this SPP Research Paper

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McInnes Cooper’s Denis Mahoney in The OGM: New East Coast Offshore OH&S Regime – 3 Key Changes Add Clarity
August 21, 2015

Our lawyers know our clients look to us for information on how legal developments affect their business. In his recent article, New East Coast Offshore OH&S Regime – 3 Key Changes Add Clarity, McInnes Cooper partner Denis Mahoney identifies the three key changes the federal Offshore Health and Safety Act  made to achieve clarification of the roles and

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McInnes Cooper’s Wylie Spicer in France Forum: The Importance of the Oceans to Canada
July 28, 2015

Our lawyers think globally because our clients do. McInnes Cooper’s Wylie Spicer is internationally recognized for his Maritime Law and Energy & Natural Resources knowledge and skills. In his article The Importance of the Oceans to Canada, Wylie examines the important role of the oceans to Canada’s energy and natural resources sector, how use of

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Legal Update: The Changing Face of Aboriginal Law – 1 Short Year, 2 Big Court Decisions, 3 Key Implications for the Energy & Natural Resources Sector
July 17, 2015

On the heels of National Aboriginal Day, we pause to take a look back at two significant Aboriginal law cases decided in the last year, how they’ve changed the face of Aboriginal law in Canada, and the three key implications they hold for Canada’s energy and natural resources sector.    ONE YEAR & TWO SIGNIFICANT

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Legal Update: Unproven Aboriginal Rights Enough For Lawsuit Against Private Industry in Saik’uz First Nation and Stellat’en First Nation v. Rio Tinto Alcan Inc.
July 10, 2015

On April 15, 2015, British Columbia’s Court of Appeal confirmed that First Nations can make certain legal claims grounded in Aboriginal rights against the government – or against any other party, like private industry – even if those rights haven’t yet been recognized by any court or formal agreement with the Crown. The decision could

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Legal Update: 3 Reasons for Directors, Officers and Supervisors To Take Occupational Health and Safety Personally
June 25, 2015

Most people know that a company itself has OHS obligations, and that it risks corporate liability if it violates those obligations. However, not everyone knows that the company’s directors, officers and supervisors share many of those OHS obligations and liability risks. Here are 3 reasons for everyone – particularly directors, officers and supervisors – to

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Legal Update: Stricter Marine Fuel Sulphur (SOx) Content Limit Kicks In – 5 FAQs
January 29, 2015

On January 1, 2015, new – and 90% lower – limits on sulphur (SOx) content in marine fuel in Canada kicked in. The new limits apply to almost all types of vessels (including offshore drilling, production and storage vessels) in a defined area. The penalties for non-compliance can be significant – and Transport Canada warns

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Legal Update: 5 “Legal” Reasons Why Natural Resource Companies Should Care About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
December 10, 2014

“Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) as a concept has been floating around in business-speak for years – but stakeholders in the mining and other natural resource industries are increasingly focussing on it. It’s safe to say that CSR is part of the “new normal” in the natural resource sector.   CSR has many definitions, but the

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Legal Update: Making the Most of the New China – Canada Bilateral Investment Treaty
November  6, 2014

On October 1, 2014, the long-delayed and controversial Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between China and Canada came into force. The new FIPA signals a deepening of the growing trade relationship between the nations, offering investors in both a more transparent and more predictable investment environment – and greater certainty that should encourage confidence

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Legal Update: SCC Says Province has “Crown” Powers (and Obligations) in Traditional Aboriginal Treaties in Grassy Narrows First Nation v. Ontario (Natural Resources)
July 15, 2014

On July 11, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the “Crown” in historical treaties with First Nations groups includes both the provincial and the federal governments, and the provincial Crown has both the “Crown’s” obligations and rights under them – and can exercise these rights (subject to  constitutional limitations) without the federal Crown’s

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Legal Alert: SCC Sets Test for – and Defines Rights of – Aboriginal Title in Canada in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. B.C.
June 26, 2014

On June 26, 2014, in a groundbreaking decision on Aboriginal title, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) significantly elaborated on the legal test for Aboriginal title in Canada – and decided that where there is Aboriginal title to land, the government must seek the consent of the title-holding Aboriginal group to proceed with developments on

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Speaking Notes: Present at the Creation – Reflections on Canadian Law and Relations 1955-2014
May 14, 2014

Brian Fleming reflects on three of the most important international legal issues deeply affecting Canada today in his April 22, 2014 talk to the Canadian International Council, Halifax Branch:   UNCLOSIII and its unfinished business The opening of the Arctic Ocean and its seabed The negotiation of trade treaties by the current government   Click

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Legal Update: Feds Propose Energy Safety & Security Act – and Toughen Up Atlantic Offshore & North Oil & Gas Regimes
February 28, 2014

Note: On February 26, 2016, the bulk of the offshore-related amendments of the Energy Safety and Security Act (ESSA, formerly known as Bill C-22) take effect. To learn about the seven key changes to the Atlantic offshore and North petroleum regulatory regime under ESSA, read McInnes Cooper’s Legal Update: Energy Safety and Security Act (ESSA)

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Legal Update: NS Moves Closer to Commercial-scale Tidal Renewable Electricity Generation
January 27, 2014

On January 21, 2014, the NS Government amended the Renewable Electricity Regulations, effective immediately.  The amendments move NS forward in its goal of achieving commercial-scale tidal renewable electricity generation.  The highlights of the amendments are:   Developmental Tidal Arrays Eligible For Feed-In-Tariff PPA. Privately-owned “developmental tidal arrays” – as defined in the amended Regulations –

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Legal Alert: NS Keeps the Ball Rolling With New Tidal Energy Regulations
January 22, 2014

On January 21, 2014, the NS Government amended the NS Renewable Electricity Regulations – moving NS further toward its goal of achieving commercial-scale tidal renewable electricity generation in NS. The amended Regulations clarify the process by which commercial scale tidal energy project developer can qualify for feed-in-tariff approval and a power purchase agreement (PPA) under

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Legal Alert: Game On – NS Electricity System Review Begins
January 20, 2014

On January 16, 2014 the NS Government announced the kick-off of its Electricity System Review:   Two Phase Review. The Government says the review will have two phases, and it will release a report summarizing the review’s consultation findings in Spring 2015: Phase 1 will consist of a technical review and expert analysis to evaluate

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Legal Alert: NS Government Proposes a Game Changer in NS Power Market
December  2, 2013

Note: On December 12, 2013 the NS Government passed Bill No. 1 (the Electricity Reform Act). It will come into force on the date it is proclaimed. On January 16, 2014 the NS Government announced it would begin an Electricity Review Process. Click here to read McInnes Cooper’s January 20, 2014 Legal Alert: Game On

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Legal Update: Feds Amend Triggers for Environmental Assessments
November 25, 2013

On November 6, 2013 amendments to the Regulations Designating Physical Activities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 took effect. The Regulations determine whether a project triggers a requirement for a federal environmental assessment.   Prior and current amendments reflect a significant shift in federal environmental policy. The prior statutory amendments generally reduced the federal

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Legal Alert: Environmental Contamination – SCC Says When In Doubt … Report
October 17, 2013

On October 17, 2013 the SCC decided a contractor breached Ontario’s environmental protection legislation by failing to report its discharge of contaminant into the natural environment to the Ministry of Environment.  The SCC’s decision was based on the specific wording of the Ontario environmental protection legislation.  However, it delivered two key messages about how courts

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Legal Alert: SCC Opens the Door to Compound Interest – and Bigger Awards – in Commercial Arbitrations
October  7, 2013

On October 4, 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada decided whether an arbitrator under provincial commercial arbitration legislation has the power to award commercial rates of compound – rather than merely simple – interest.  In British Columbia (Forests) v. Teal Cedar Products Ltd., the SCC found that an arbitrator acting under the BC commercial arbitration

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Legal Alert: SCC Confirms Marine Liability Act Does Not Oust Workers Compensation Bar
August  6, 2013

On August 2, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that workers’ compensation legislation still bars an injured worker (or his dependents, if the accident was fatal) from suing an employer with respect to the injury (or fatality) when:   the federal Marine Liability Act applies; and a worker is injured or killed in a

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Legal Update: The Duty to Consult – Important Lessons from Canada’s Mining Sector
March 15, 2013

Recent developments in Ontario and Yukon are an important reminder of the practical implications of the Crown’s legal Duty to Consult with First Nations on exploration rights granted to the mining industry under provincial laws. Resource and energy sector companies operating in Canada should learn a lesson from the Ontario and Yukon experience:  blind reliance on

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Legal Update: NB’s Oil & Gas Industry Subject to New “Rules”
March  7, 2013

On February 15, 2013 the N.B. Government released “Responsible Environmental Management of Oil and Natural Gas Activities in New Brunswick – Rules for Industry,” governing the activities and facilities of oil and gas companies on both privately and publicly owned lands in N.B.  Purporting to be a “one stop shopping” framework for oil and gas activities

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Legal Alert: N.B. Issues New “Rules” for Oil and Natural Gas Industry
February 15, 2013

  Today, the N.B. Government released “Responsible Environmental Management of Oil and Natural Gas Activities in New Brunswick – Rules for Industry.” These Rules are not in the form of legislation or a regulation; the N.B. government says it will implement them “for the most part” as conditions to approvals and certificates issued under through existing

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Proposed Changes to the Nova Scotia Environment Act
September  6, 2011

Nova Scotia Environment (“NSE”) recently released a discussion paper addressing its suggested changes to the Environment Act, 1994-95, c. 1 (the “Act”).   We are pleased to provide you with this outline of the most significant proposed changes, and our comments regarding how these changes may affect your business. Also note, NSE is accepting comments

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Green Technology Expedited Patent Application Summary
September  6, 2011

Following last year’s public consultation, rules regarding “green technology” patents have changed. As of March 3, 2011, Canada’s Patent Act allows expedited examination of “green technology” applications.   The amendments alter the prior expedited examination regime permitting expedited examination “if the applicant files with the Commissioner a declaration indicating that the application relates to technology

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Renewable Energy Law Atlantic Canadian Update
June  6, 2011

• Emera Inc. and Nalcor Energy sign Term Sheet for Muskrat Falls Lower Churchill Project • Renewable Electricity Regulations passed in Nova Scotia – Legislated mandate of 25 per cent of electricity to be produced by renewable energy facilities starting in 2015; – Interim cap on forest biomass supply; – Community feed-in-tariff rates to be

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Legal Update: CleanTech Strategic Fund
April  6, 2011

The Nova Scotia government has decided to support its growing clean technology industry and help spur innovation in this growing sector with its announcement on April 13th of the creation of a $24 million provincial cleantech strategic fund. This fund will provide opportunities for early stage and venture capital investments in cleantech companies in Nova

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Wetlands Conservation Update
March  6, 2011

Department of Environment Introduces New Operational Guidelines under the New Brunswick Wetlands Conservation Policy   New Brunswick’s new Operational Guidelines issued under the Wetlands Conservation Policy took effect as of January 1, 2011.   Real estate developers and industrial project proponents planning development activity in or near wetlands are encouraged to review the new Operational

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A Review of the Project Scope and Environmental Assessment Scope for Mining and Energy Projects Across Canada
April  6, 2010

Carole Chan was the Co-author of the following publication:   A Review of the Project Scope and Environmental Assessment Scope for Mining and Energy Projects Across Canada, presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment (Geneva: April 6-11, 2010).   The paper is available at

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Federal 2016 Budget lockup
March 18, 2016

The Federal Government with Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, will table the 2016 Budget March 22. Representatives from our Tax Team will be in Ottawa during the lock-up to analyze the budget’s key tax changes that may affect your business.   The media lockup will start at 9:30 a.m. until the budget is released at approximately 4 p.m. Watch for

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Wylie Spicer interviewed with CBC International
September 17, 2015

Calgary partner Wylie Spicer, QC, was recently interviewed on CBC International with regards to Article 82 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Canada being on the hook for millions of dollars in royalties.  At the moment there is no plan set in place for payment of the royalities.

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Counsel Wylie Spicer authors paper published by University of Calgary’s The School of Public Policy about UNCLOS Tax on Offshore Oil
September  3, 2015

The University of Calgary’s The School of Public Policy today released a paper authored by McInnes Cooper Counsel Wylie Spicer QC that examines the legal basis on which Canada could be on the hook for millions for a tax  on Canada’s offshore oil and gas reserves under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The

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McInnes Cooper’s Wylie Spicer quoted on marine mining in Mining Journal
May 19, 2015

McInnes Cooper Counsel and Maritime and Energy Law lawyer Wylie Spicer is nationally and internationally known for his experience and expertise in deep seabed mining. Wylie was recently quoted on marine mining in Mining Journal’s special report, “Seeking returns in uncharted waters” by Ruth Green, published in Mining Journal on March 20, 2015 (at page 14).* If

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Muskrat Falls/Maritime Link/Labrador Link Project named one of Lexpert’s Big Deals for 2014
January  8, 2015

Recently Lexpert Magazine released their list of big deals for 2014. The $5-Billion global bond financing of Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Generating Facility and Labrador-Island Transmission Link, which is to be built on the Lower Churchill River in Labrador, was named number 4 amongst the top 10. McInnes Cooper acted as lead counsel for Nalcor Energy

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A Message From the Atlantic
July 16, 2012

McInnes Cooper’s Energy & Natural Resources Group hosted our “Atlantic Canada Party” during the Calgary Stampede. Clients, colleagues and friends joined us on July 9 to celebrate the annual festival.   For information on the Calgary Stampede and events, click here.    

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