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.
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.
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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.
In order to unify various national regulations, the National Congress is analysing the Bill for the Promotion of Distributed Energy Generation from Renewable Sources. The bill's main aims are to unify inconsistent provincial laws in order to reduce local bureaucratic red tape, combine technical and security standards, simplify permit requirements and reduce lengthy review procedures in order to ensure timely installation and avoid added costs.
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.
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.
To comply with the applicable EU regulations, E-Control recently published draft amendments to the Gas System Charges Ordinance 2018 and the Gas Market Model Ordinance. In response to international criticism, E-Control also proposed a redesign of the Austrian gas balancing system. In order to implement these amendments in the current Austrian gas market, a proposal to establish a virtual interconnection point at Baumgarten has also been drafted.
The new government recently presented its government programme, which sets out its framework and indicates the legislative projects that it intends to implement over the coming five years. As part of the programme, the government hopes to have 100% of the national electricity supply come from renewable sources by 2030. However, as there are no details on how this goal will be achieved, it remains to be seen what changes the energy sector will face.
E-Control recently published a draft of the amendment of the Gas Market Model Ordinance 2017. The envisaged amendment – and especially the newly implemented capacity conversion service – resolves the capacity mismatch issue by compensating network users for the economic disadvantages that arise from having to buy double capacity due to the bundling regime at interconnection points.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The National Energy Administration recently issued the Interim Administrative Measures for the Development and Construction of Distributed Wind Power Projects, which aim to simplify the existing approval and development process for wind power projects. The development of distributed wind power will help to realise the sustainable development of China's wind power industry, accelerate energy transformation and revitalise the development of the national economy.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently promulgated its Plan for Building the National Carbon Emission Trading Market (Power Generation Industry). According to the NDRC, the plan's implementation will play an important role in establishing the national carbon market and constitutes the official start of the national carbon emission trading system. However, a robust carbon emission trading system and a fair market trading environment for investors are still a long way off.
Under the existing legal framework, the state owns all mineral resources in China and the allocation of mining rights is heavily regulated. However, the various courts have different understandings of the relevant laws and regulations and judgment criteria for mining right disputes vary from court to court. As such, the Supreme People's Court recently issued an interpretation on the application of law in hearing cases involving mining right disputes.