Structure and Operation of the Fund

The purpose of the ESRF is to finance environmental and social studies pertaining to the manner in which and to the terms and conditions under which petroleum exploration, development, and production activities on frontier lands should be conducted.  Frontier lands, defined as those areas where Canada has the right to dispose of or exploit the natural resources, are situated in the offshore areas of Canada's East and West Coasts and the areas north of 60 degrees.  Environment is interpreted in the broadest possible sense and extends from the physical environment and biological environment issues to socio-economic issues.

The Environmental Studies Research Fund, initiated in 1983, receives its legislative mandate through the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA), which was proclaimed in February 1987. As well the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act provide legislative direction.

The ESRF is directed by a 12-member Management Board which has representation from the federal government, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, the oil and gas industry, and the general public. The ESRF is administered by a  secretariat within Natural Resources Canada.

The ESRF Management Board takes a hands-on approach to the conduct of the business of the ESRF. On behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Management Board sets research priority areas and submits annually the ESRF budget for the Minister's approval. The ESRF provides a forum for industry and government to develop a common knowledge base and to jointly selects research priorities that address the needs of both groups and avoids a repetition of effort and expense.

ESRF funding can be provided solely to legal entities validly incorporated or registered in Canada, including companies, industry associations, research associations, standards organizations, aboriginal and community groups, academic institutions as well as federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments and their departments and agencies.