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.
This update has been removed at the request of the authors.
The new government composed of the Austrian People's Party and the Green Party recently presented the government programme for 2020 to 2024, which contains comprehensive measures to promote the expansion of renewable energies. Accordingly, the Renewable Energies Expansion Act, which has been planned for a long time and was drawn up under the penultimate government, is to be enacted as quickly as possible.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether distribution network operators must provide network users with a written cost estimate for a grid connection even if the general obligation to connect final customers to the grid is still in dispute and has yet to be decided by the competent authority. The case has clarified whether a network operator's obligation to provide a cost estimate presupposes that its connection obligation is undisputed or has already been legally established.
The Higher Administrative Court recently found that the operation of an electric filling station does not constitute the operation of an electricity company and is thus subject to Trade Act. Prior to this decision, the question of whether the act applies to such stations was unclear, as there was no relevant case law and the legal literature was divergent.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.