The British Columbia government has banned oil and gas exploration from taking place on about 1 million acres near the Sacred Headwaters of the critical waterways of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers.
The government said Shell Canada Ltd. would have to immediately abandon their plans for drilling in the area, the Globe and Mail reported. British Columbia will also not issue any natural gas leases in the future for the sensitive region.
A four-year ban on oil and gas drilling in northwestern B.C. was set to expire December 18, which had been preventing Shell from doing exploratory drilling in the area. The government's announcement thrilled environmentalists who have fought to keep the area safe from drilling.
The announcement also came shortly after The Conference Board of Canada reported that investments into the natural gas sector in British Columbia could rival those seen in the country for oil sands, the Financial Post reported. It is expected the natural gas industry will attract $181 billion for drilling elsewhere in B.C.