The word “liquid” is not defined in the Canadian Natural Resources Act, however, in section 2.11, the Natural Resources Canada Regulations, “liquid and semi-liquid petroleum” is defined as petroleum “based on a distillate of crude oil or an oil consisting of a combination of distillate of crude oil and a carrier oil.” This definition of term is often used by courts by referring to diluted bitumen rather than crude oil.
The purpose of this section is to protect and promote the interests of Canadians through the regulation of the use and production of crude petroleum. It is also to promote the use of petroleum in a manner that promotes the use of natural resources. “Natural resources” include oil sands, bitumen, and other hydrocarbons.
However, this definition also includes the product called “pipeline oil,” which is also not oil based. “Pipeline oil” is a product, produced from oil from one source, such as a pipeline, and then refined into a liquid through the use of a pipeline transport system. As such, pipeline oil is considered a blend of natural resources that need not be further regulated on its production as it does not meet all requirements of the Canada Natural Resources Act.
In the last case concerning the Keystone XL Pipeline, the trial court ruled in the court of common pleas in June that the Alberta Energy Regulator had concluded that bitumen from the Alberta sands is a liquid petroleum, and that pipeline oil was therefore not a product that requires further analysis under the Act. The court found that these three requirements could be met with just two steps:
the crude oil is refined in a pipeline transport system, and
it meets the requirements of the Canada Natural Resources Act.
The Alberta Energy Regulator’s conclusion that bitumen is a liquid petroleum at its disposal when the product is exported is a reasonable inference that the product is of a “natural resource,” and therefore subject to greater regulations than is crude oil. The fact that pipeline companies export bitumen through their pipelines doesn’t change the Court of Common Pleas conclusion that bitumen is, indeed, a “natural resource” subject to further regulation.
We do not accept the Alberta Energy Regulator’s interpretation of the Alberta Petroleum Products Act as an arbitrary, capricious, and arbitrary decision. We agree with the judgment of the trial court that:
The Alberta Energy Regulator’s interpretation of the Alberta Petroleum Products Act is inconsistent with, rather than supported by, the legislative intent
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