CNLOPB opening up to federal AG

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When it comes to a no-holds review of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), it appears the auditor general of Canada might have success where the provincial auditor general has not.In his annual report, released Wednesday, provincial acting auditor general Wayne Loveys outlined the "several attempts" made by himself and his predecessor, John Noseworthy, to get unrestricted access to the board's information, with the ability to publish their findings without review or restriction.

According to the acting AG, the attempts at conducting a review to his liking have been "a lengthy and often frustrating process" and the offshore petroleum board has had "varying responses."

A timeline outlining the back and forth between the Auditor General's Office and the board from January 2008 to October 2011 is documented in Loveys' report.

Ultimately, he states he will not proceed with a review.

"The inability to complete the planned review is regrettable, as the CNLOPB will not be held accountable in the same manner as other entities within the jurisdiction of the Auditor General Act operating in the province, ie. through an audit by the provincial auditor general," the report states.

However, as the report noted, the federal AG, Michael Ferguson, is conducting his own review and, according to the petroleum board, that review is still on.

"The federal auditor general provided an undertaking which enables the CNLOPB to provide unrestricted access to information that is privileged under the legislation," spokesman Sean Kelly stated in response to questions from The Telegram.

"The federal audit has begun and the CNLOPB is hosting a full day session with federal auditors (today)."

The CNLOPB has previously stated a section within the Accord Acts (section 119, federal), addressing privileged and proprietary information, creates hurdles that do not permit the board to provide unrestricted access to the information at its fingertips.

Sources within the board have said the federal-provincial entity also holds a legal opinion, stating it falls outside the provincial Auditor General Act.

Meanwhile, the issue of the public review of the offshore oil and gas regulator is not unique to Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2011, the provincial auditor general in Nova Scotia abandoned attempts to review the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, with the board citing the same section of the Accord Acts as the same hurdle to providing unrestricted access to the provincial AG.

Organizations: Acting, Federal, Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia

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