Strategic Context

British Columbia is in the fortunate position of having abundant opportunities for energy, mineral and petroleum resource development. The Ministry is committed to working with communities, industry, First Nations and environmental organizations to ensure that the continued economic growth and development of these sectors is socially and environmentally responsible. British Columbians are witnessing increased jobs, business opportunities and government revenue from the production and sale of commodities. Electricity prices in British Columbia are among the lowest in North America, thanks to continued public ownership of British Columbia's electricity generation, transmission and distribution assets and the BC Utilities Commission's regulation of domestic rates under the heritage contract.

The estimated British Columbia onshore oil and gas resources are substantial: 50 trillion cubic feet of conventional gas, 84 trillion cubic feet of coalbed gas, upwards of 250 trillion cubic feet of shale and tight gas and 7.9 billion barrels of oil. Oil and gas activity levels remain robust in the British Columbia portion of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. Companies can still pursue large resource plans, as they are able to acquire substantial contiguous blocks of petroleum and natural gas rights in British Columbia. However, after accelerated growth in recent years, growth in exploration activities is expected to ease in 2008.

The resurgence of the mining industry reflects the significant improvements in policy made since 2001. B.C. has gone from having six per cent of Canada's mineral exploration investment in 2001 to a forecasted 15 per cent in 2006. It is essential that B.C. continues to simplify doing business in the Province, without diminishing the high level of environmental stewardship expected by British Columbians. Stronger mineral prices and the emergence of robust Asian economies provide excellent opportunities for mining in B.C. provided the Province remains competitive.

B.C. is at the forefront of environmental and economic leadership as it takes full advantage of clean, renewable energy sources to meet the demands of continued growth. By focusing on the electricity, alternative energy and oil and gas sectors, the Province will encourage conservation, innovation and ongoing job and economic opportunities. Ensuring a secure, reliable supply of affordable electricity produced in an environmentally responsible way will provide benefits for generations to come.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources assesses its risks and opportunities annually as part of its strategic planning process. Once risks/opportunities have been identified, they are addressed through strategies that result in the successful implementation of Ministry goals and objectives for that given period. The following is a comprehensive list of the Ministry's external and internal risks and opportunities.

External Risks

Financial — The Ministry is focused on identifying the opportunities created by the high commodity price environment to accelerate responsible and sustainable development in the near-term even though financial markets may continue to experience volatility. Most world banks have ended their cycle of interest rate increases which could influence spending and investment in some sectors. In addition, commodity prices can have a significant impact on investment levels.

Competition — Investment dollars move readily around the globe to the jurisdictions that provide the highest net return for given levels of risk. The Ministry monitors changes in British Columbia's competitiveness as compared to other jurisdictions and implements strategies to maintain our competitive position and investment attractiveness. For example, the Ministry continues to streamline and update legislative and policy frameworks to minimize the regulatory burden and increase British Columbia's competitiveness.

Environment — The Province is committed to the environmentally and socially responsible management, development and use of energy resources. B.C. supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity, oil and gas and transportation industries. Current provincial efforts at reducing the impacts of climate change will continue.

Skilled Workers — The re-emergence of our mining sector and the rapid expansion of our energy sector means a growing number of permanent, well paying employment opportunities for British Columbians. However, with shortages of skills in our exploration and mining sectors, one of the difficulties facing the mining industry today is attracting young people to the industry. There is a risk that the demographic trend towards an ageing population and fewer employee-aged people in B.C. will prove challenging. The BC Mining Plan and other policies are implementing an approach to skills training and labour which focuses on attracting, developing, retaining, and informing workers about employment opportunities.

External Opportunities

Global Supply/Demand — The emergence of China and India as major commodity consumers continues to influence demand and prices in a wide range of resource commodity markets. China is also emerging as a new source of investment funds that can be attracted to British Columbia. The Ministry is fully engaged in the provincial Asia Pacific Initiative, aimed at positioning British Columbia as the preferred economic and cultural gateway between North America and the Asia Pacific region.

North American demand in the oil and gas markets continues to increase while new supply opportunities are limited. British Columbia will remain as a significant supplier of natural gas to North American markets.

B.C.'s opportunity to supply minerals to the world is unprecedented as mineral prices and demand remain strong.

New Relationship with First Nations and Community Consultation — British Columbia's communities in resource rich areas continue to seek earlier and more comprehensive information from government regarding the development of resources in their areas. Many First Nations and communities are actively looking at the opportunities open to them to engage in proactive energy planning — ranging from energy conservation programs to economic and resource development. The Ministry is actively working with First Nations and will continue to work to enhance public confidence, identify ways to provide greater community benefits and increase investment certainty for industry.

Sesquicentennial 2008 — The Ministry is working with the Association for Mineral Exploration of British Columbia to give Roundup 2008 a theme of "150 years of Mining" for the provincial sesquicentennial celebration.

Internal Opportunities

Collaborative Relationship with Stakeholders — The Ministry will continue to build strong relationships with its key client groups and stakeholders. The Ministry recognizes the need to build solid relationships to advance its programs and strategies.

Technology — The Ministry continues to focus on technological innovations to enhance service responsiveness to our clients and industry, such as the recently implemented Mineral Titles Online and Petroleum Titles Online systems, British Columbia's state of the art mineral resource and geoscience databases, and interactive mapping websites. The Ministry is committed to developing further innovations since they are internationally recognized as key to B.C.'s competitiveness and investment attractiveness.

Regulatory Streamlining — The Ministry has simplified regulations while ensuring the integrity of environmental, health and safety standards. The Ministry continues to support the government-wide regulatory reform initiative by meeting the goal of no net increase in regulation over the next three years.

New Opportunities Explored — The Ministry recently issued its "BC Mining Plan: Report on Progress", a status report on Mining Plan implementation. The Ministry continues to roll out its community engagement strategy focusing on working with local governments, communities and non-governmental organizations to seek advice on key policy matters and to provide information on the benefits and opportunities of resource development.

Capacity — The Ministry explores opportunities to improve service through regulatory reviews and new technology, and seeks to mitigate the impacts of staff retirements from a number of key Ministry positions through new hires and innovative human resource practices.

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