New regulations that are scheduled to come into effect in March of 2010 constitute a considerable change in the way companies are permitted to work together. And, with the release of a draft proposal by the Competition Bureau, has come interest from Canada's oil patch as to how the rules specifically affect the oil sands, says Colin MacDonald, a partner in the Calgary office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) and regional leader of the Firm's Competition and Marketing Law Group.

Under the new rules, Canada 's energy giants could be permitted to consult one another on new oil sands projects — a shift that would provide them with greater purchasing power to help thwart cost overruns and accelerate construction.