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.
The national and provincial governments recently signed the Federal Energy Agreement. The agreement aims to develop and foster the implementation of energy policies at the provincial and federal level. The cooperation of the national and provincial governments is key to a long-term energy policy. The regulatory framework introduced for the different jurisdictions will ensure quality of service and help to develop the national energy network.
The government has amended the Renewable Energy Act and issued a regulatory decree, which includes new promotional schemes to foster investment in renewable energy projects and reduce Argentina's dependency on fossil fuels. This update examines the decree, the benefits granted by the federal government in that regard and the terms and conditions of the first renewable energy project contest due to be launched by the Ministry of Energy.
The recently elected government hopes to tackle the energy deficit and reduce the impact of subsidies on the public budget. In that regard, the Energy and Mining Ministry aims to suspend the government's utility bill subsidy system, include renewable energy in the energy matrix to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons, develop nuclear energy and increase domestic production of hydrocarbons through foreign investment.
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.
After four months of negotiations, the Austrian National Council has finally reached an agreement on the amendment of the Green Electricity Act. The required two-thirds majority was reached by a last-minute agreement between the coalition parties and the Green Party. The aim of the new legislation is to increase the percentage of green electricity and expand renewable energy in Austria.
Following an Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators decision which foresees a split of the Austrian-German electricity market, the Austrian National Regulatory Authority, E-Control and the Austrian transmission system operators have announced that they plan to exhaust all legal possibilities in order to appeal the decision.
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.
In order to improve the definition of and conditions for the use and disposal of fluids, gravel and cement paste resulting from drilling and production activity in Brazil, the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) recently published Normative Instruction 01/2018. In doing so, the IBAMA established new definitions and specific criteria that must be followed, subject to the penalties provided in the law.
The Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels recently published Notice of Public Consultation and Public Hearing 20 in order to collect input regarding the new rule which will increase the flexibility of the local content rules provided for in concession contracts entered into between the seventh and 13th bidding round for onerous assignment, as well as the first production sharing bidding round of the exploration of oil and natural gas blocks.
The initial expectation from some market analysts with respect to the outcome of Brazil's 14th bidding round was conservative, with Brazil's political turmoil and the downturn in the oil and gas sector clearly inciting this uncertainty. However, it seems that the government's initiative to extend the special customs regime for the import of rigs, vessels and equipment until 2040, as well as its adjustment of the rules in relation to local content requirements, ensured the round's success.
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 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.
The Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) recently announced the Mineral Rights Granting System Reform Programme, which aims to promote the competitive granting of all types of mineral right in China. The programme requires the competent authorities to implement tender, auction and listing methods to grant mineral rights and imposes strict restrictions on the granting of mineral rights via agreements. It also requires the MLR to delegate its mineral rights approval powers to lower-level departments.
The Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council recently issued the Opinions on Deepening the Reform of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Sector. While the market-oriented reform of the entire oil and gas industrial chain includes no surprises, the opinions reflect the government's strong intentions behind the reform and send a positive signal to investors. However, the reform will not be an overnight success and significant resistance will be encountered.