Energy & Natural Resources updates

Argentina

First round of competitive bidding for offshore exploration launched
  • Argentina
  • 17 December 2018

The government recently published Decree 872/2018, ordering the Secretariat of Energy to launch the first round of international competitive bidding for offshore exploration permits. Given Argentina's size and the potential for the discovery of new energy sources, the government aims to exploit its resources through effective investment in seismic surveys and hydrocarbon explorations in partnership with major oil and gas companies.

New resolution issued on offshore reconnaissance permits and related commercial rights
  • Argentina
  • 24 September 2018

The Ministry of Energy and Mining recently issued Resolution 197/2018, which details the requirements and procedures relating to obtaining reconnaissance permits and the commercial use of data obtained during reconnaissance activities along the Argentine Continental Shelf. Although the Ministry of Energy and Mining has already granted a number of offshore exploration licences, significant potential for offshore basin exploitation remains.

Resolution on offshore reconnaissance permits
  • Argentina
  • 30 July 2018

This update has been removed at the request of the authors.

Latest round of renewable energy tender process success
  • Argentina
  • 27 November 2017

Argentina has established a long-term state policy for energy development, which encourages the use of non-fossil fuels suitable for environmental protection and economic sustainability. In pursuance of this goal, the Ministry of Energy and Mining launched a set of tender proceedings for the procurement of electrical energy from renewable sources. Following the success of Rounds 1 and 1.5, Round 2 was recently published with the aim of adding 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy to the interface system.


Austria

Contributed by Schoenherr
Flexibility and Storage Market Report 2019
  • Austria
  • 23 September 2019

The information assessed when preparing the latest Flexibility and Storage Market Report on the Austrian gas market suggests that the current competitive situation does not require regulated access to storage facilities. The sufficient availability of storage capacity, customer-oriented product development, market-oriented price formation and offered quantities form a market characterised by competitive pressure.

Amendments bring overall relief to system charges
  • Austria
  • 06 May 2019

The Austrian regulatory authority E-Control is responsible for ensuring an equal energy market and a fair market price. Each year E-Control reviews and defines the system charges for the use of electricity and gas networks on all network levels. The System Charges Ordinance 2019 and the Gas System Charges Ordinance 2019 bring further relief to system charges.

Consultation on implementation of network code on harmonised transmission tariffs
  • Austria
  • 29 April 2019

The national regulatory authority E-Control recently published its consultation document on the implementation of the network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures in Austria. The document is structured in line with the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators consultation template. However, it appears that E-Control paid little attention to maximum transparency and traceability when setting transmission tariffs.

New coordinated network development plan introduced
  • Austria
  • 17 December 2018

In order to ensure that gas supplies are secure and to achieve a high level of capacity availability, the Gas Act requires the market area manager (MAM) to prepare an annual coordinated network development plan. The MAM recently submitted a draft version of the 2018 plan to E-Control. The latest plan ensures that, among other things, the supply of gas to end consumers is protected, the line capacity is considered and transport requirements are met.

Automatic permits for certain energy infrastructure projects
  • Austria
  • 03 September 2018

The proposed new Location Development Act aims to regulate a special selection procedure for individual, location-relevant projects (eg, electricity grids and power plants). While the economy rejoices over faster legal security, non-governmental organisations and lawyers have expressed doubts about the maintenance of the standard of other material laws and the legal admissibility of the government project.


Brazil

ANP issues draft resolution regarding foreign trade activities
  • Brazil
  • 08 October 2018

The National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels recently published Public Hearing and Public Consultation Notice 13/2018. The notice divulges a new draft resolution to control foreign trade activities relating to biofuels, petroleum and its by-products and natural gas by-products. The draft resolution also revamps the previous consent procedure for requests to import and export these products in view of the new resolution and provides for subsidies.

Brazil takes new steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Brazil
  • 24 September 2018

Since 2017 Brazil has been developing an environmental public policy which supports a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. For this purpose, the Ministry of Mines and Energy instituted the RenovaBio programme, a federal and state programme which seeks to identify and review all types of biofuel in the Brazilian energy sector based on certain criteria. Further, the National Council for Energy Policy is expected to implement a 10-year plan to ensure an 8.6% reduction in the petroleum market.

Decommissioning in Brazil – business opportunities and new regulations expected
  • Brazil
  • 03 September 2018

The decommissioning of aging offshore units and related assets is a challenge for the oil and gas industry – not only in Brazil, but also worldwide. As such, the players involved in decommissioning projects – including the authorities, operators and subcontractors – should keep up to date with the relevant requirements and best practices in order to transform potential market crises into opportunities.

15th bid round boosts investments, while ANP softens local content rules
  • Brazil
  • 14 May 2018

The National Petroleum Agency recently led the 15th bidding round in Rio de Janeiro, which reinforced international oil companies' (IOCs') interest in investing in Brazil. Eleven foreign and two national oil companies committed to paying approximately R8 billion in signature bonuses. The highest commitment was presented by the consortium between ExxonMobil, Petrobras and QPI. The IOCs have demonstrated their belief that the geological reserves in the Campos Basin are some of the most prolific on the planet.

ANP submits new rule for authorising performance of biofuel production
  • Brazil
  • 16 April 2018

The Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels recently published Public Consultation and Public Hearing Notice 4/2018, which establishes the requirements necessary to undertake the production of biofuel activity and the operation of producing facilities. The proposal unifies the biofuels regulatory framework (biodiesel, biomethane and ethanol) in order to simplify administrative procedures, foster investments in the sector and reduce costs resulting from the regulation.


Chile

Surface landowners versus mining concession holder rights
  • Chile
  • 12 November 2018

The relationship between surface landowners and mining concession holders in Chile is governed by law, which grants preferential rights to the latter. Mining concession holders may exercise their rights to search for minerals and impose mining easements on landowners. However, in the case of state property, such matters are regulated by a ministerial order.

Legal framework for lithium gets recharged
  • Chile
  • 21 May 2018

Until 1979, the Mining Code 1932 defined the legal regime for lithium. During that period, lithium was treated like any other mineral and could be privately owned without special restrictions. This situation has changed with the enactment of a number of laws. Most recently, the Ministry of Mining's Supreme Decree 64 established special operation contract requirements and conditions for the exploration, exploitation and processing of lithium deposits in the Atacama region.

Lights on – El Pelicano solar park opened
  • Chile
  • 29 January 2018

The El Pelicano solar park, a photovoltaic power plant located north of Santiago, was recently opened. The plant, which represents an investment of $250 million, has a capacity of 110 megawatts (MW) and will provide approximately 42% of the energy required by the Santiago subway system. In 2014 solar power in Chile had an installed capacity of 11 MW. With the launch of the El Pelicano project, this capacity has risen to 2,100 MW.


China

Government greenlights national oil and gas pipeline network company
  • China
  • 08 April 2019

The Communist Party's Central Comprehensive Deepening Reform Committee recently approved the Implementation Opinions on the Reform of the Operation Mechanism of the Oil and Gas Pipeline Network and the establishment of an independent national oil and gas pipeline network company. This initiative will significantly transform China's oil and gas sector into a more competitive and non-discriminatory environment for all players.

Government issues new policies and regulations to develop PV industry
  • China
  • 04 March 2019

As photovoltaic (PV) technology advances, development and construction costs continue to decrease. In 2017 the average construction cost for new PV power plants was 45% lower than in 2012, which led the state to reduce subsidies and ease the pressure on subsidy funds. As such, in May 2018 and January 2019 various government bodies issued two policies concerning PV power generation, which have both contributed to the industry's development.

Draft Atomic Energy Law published for public comment
  • China
  • 24 December 2018

The Ministry of Justice recently published for public comment the draft Atomic Energy Law, which the legislature had been drafting for nearly 30 years. Together with the Nuclear Safety Law, which entered into force in January 2018, the law is expected to form the fundamental legal framework for China's nuclear energy industry. This article discusses two important issues concerning nuclear energy in China: the relationship between the two laws and the nuclear damages compensation system.

State Council issues guidelines for stable development of natural gas sector
  • China
  • 15 October 2018

The State Council recently issued Several Opinions on Promoting the Coordinated and Stable Development of Natural Gas. The opinions aim to accelerate the development and use of natural gas in a coordinated and stable manner, advance the energy production and consumption revolution and build a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient modern energy system. The main purpose of the opinions is to aid in the development of strategies on the comprehensive development of the natural gas industry.

Latest negative list opens power sector up to foreign investors
  • China
  • 20 August 2018

The 2018 negative list was released in the middle of the current Sino-US trade war and is thus largely a gesture to show China's commitment to making consistent, reformative progress towards trade liberalisation. The new negative list has significantly opened the market up to foreign investment, particularly in the energy sector. Among the restrictions which have been lifted are those regarding power grid construction and the exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas in free trade zones.