For the first time, the Norwegian courts have ruled in a case regarding the scope of the parent company guarantee (PCG) for licensees on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The Borgarting Court of Appeal recently overturned a district court judgment and largely accepted the Norwegian government's interpretation of the PCG's scope of applicability. Although the ruling, which is likely to be appealed, provides some clarity, the question of whether tax claims are covered was not resolved.
The Energy Regulatory Commission has received clearance from the Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement to publish the general administrative provisions (GAPs) that set out the Guidelines for the Statistic Registry of Commercial Transactions Arising from Regulated Activities Performed with Natural Gas and Oil. The GAPs establish the natural gas and oil registry system and provide new reporting obligations for permit holders.
Maciej Bando's five-year term of office as the President of the Energy Regulatory Office recently came to an end. A new head of the regulatory body may lead to a change of method in the execution of some competences under its administrative discretion. This change of method may be particularly visible in network and supply activities, as most of the regulations in this regard are developed by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office and other administrative bodies in the European Union.
Four new exploration blocks in the Dinarides have been offered in the third licensing round for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Croatia. This recent licensing round of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency focuses on the central and southern regions. The deadline for the submission of bids is 10 September 2019 and the licences are tentatively scheduled to be announced in December 2019.
The use of corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) looks set to increase in Italy. Corporate PPAs are contracts between buyers and power producers to purchase electricity at a pre-agreed price for a pre-agreed period. As the market for the development of subsidy-free renewable energy projects grows, corporate PPAs are expected to become a common part of the energy and sustainability strategies of Italian corporates.
The Council of Ministers recently launched the second offshore licensing round for oil and gas exploration in numerous blocks. It also approved the updated tender protocol and approved updates to some articles of the model exploration and production agreement. The Lebanese Petroleum Administration has invited interested companies to combine their bidding efforts by forming consortiums. This article examines the pre-qualification process and reviews how bids will be assessed up until the award stage.
The Act on Promoting Electricity from High-Efficiency Cogeneration recently entered into force. It establishes support mechanisms for combined heat and power (CHP) installations connected to district heating networks, which will replace the previous support scheme that expired at the end of 2018 and was based essentially on certificates of origin for energy from CHP installations.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) recently issued a resolution which has clarified the scope of the general administrative provisions on metering that apply to holders of permits to store petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemicals. In issuing the resolution, the CRE has further relieved applicable permit holders from their obligations to comply with specific requirements.
The 2013 energy reform ordered the legal separation of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in order to guarantee equal competition for all industry players. Accordingly, in 2016 the Ministry of Energy issued the CFE separation rules to foster open access, efficient operation and competition within the industry. As these rules resulted in several inefficiencies within CFE generation companies, the ministry recently relaxed them in order to maximise resources and reduce power prices for end users.
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 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.
The Regional Administrative Court of Sardinia recently annulled the regional authority's decision to revoke authorisation for the construction and operation of a photovoltaic (PV) plant on the rooftops of agricultural greenhouses following its alleged loss of status as an agricultural company. The decision confirms that the lack of qualification as a professional agricultural entrepreneur should not jeopardise the right to operate PV plants and receive incentive tariffs on the production of renewable energy.
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.
In April and May 2019 solar and wind renewable energy systems producers will compete for the first time for operating state aid and a place in the Greek energy market in a joint competitive tender procedure organised by the Energy Regulatory Authority. Despite certain doubts, the market signs indicate that a significant number of players and capacities plan to participate in the upcoming joint competition.
The signatories to the Energy Agreement recently decided the location of the first of three new offshore wind farms that will be put up for tender. Unlike previous projects in which the government was responsible for developing the offshore site and preparing the grid connection, the new wind farm will be procured through a procedure in which the winning tender will be responsible for developing and preparing the grid connection.
A draft law on the further unbundling and privatisation of the public natural gas company DEPA was recently submitted to Parliament. The draft law proposes that DEPA be divided into two companies: DEPA Infrastructure and DEPA Trade. The main opposition to the draft law centres on the fact that the state will retain a 14% stake in DEPA Trade, which some have argued will allow the state to retain too much control and potentially veto strategic policy issues.
The government aims to terminate the gas production of the large-scale Groningen Field as soon as possible. The reason for this decision is the Zeerijp earthquake of January 2018. However, immediately reducing production from the Groningen Field to a much lower level would lead to safety and security risks in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries. As such, the next few years will be used to decide on a safe production level and simultaneously safeguard security of supply.
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 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently launched a consultation on proposals regarding the consenting of large-scale electricity storage in England. As the current planning system does not distinguish between standalone and co-located storage technologies, storage developers must consider a number of issues to ensure that the electricity storage facility is consented lawfully. The BEIS's proposals provide much needed clarity in this regard.
Preventing corruption is a key challenge faced by the oil and gas sector worldwide. This is particularly true in developing countries, as the high level of financial resources generated by recent discoveries can create a breeding ground for corruption and abuse. Lebanon recently took a major step towards achieving transparency and accountability in this regard when it adopted Law 84 on Transparency in the Oil and Gas Sector.