An early theme is emerging at this year’s NOIA 2018 conference on the oil and gas industry.

Industry leaders say offshore regulations need to change, adapt and be redefined so the province, region and country can be more competitive in doing business in challenging economic times. That was the message from all presenters at the annual conference opening.

The first to present Tuesday was Premier Dwight Ball who touted his government’s willingness to work with industry and help encourage change to regulatory regimes.

Jim Irving, the CEO of JD Irving Ltd., weighed in on the challenge of regulations that are forcing this province and country into a lower ranking among the world’s key players in oil and gas. Irving’s message focused on business going where the money goes, suggesting Atlantic Canada is pushing its potential investment into the laps of its competitors. He urged the industry here to demand policies that align with global best practices and avoid costly duplication.

Irving also urged policy makers to shorten the permit process which can take up to three years for approvals in the offshore here, whereas in other countries it can be as short as a few months, all the while keeping in line with rigorous environmental standards.

The 2018 NOIA conference is scheduled to run until Thursday with speakers that include former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall as well as updates from ExxonMobil Canada and Husky Energy.