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  1. Recent Developments in Regulation of Oil and Gas NORM

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015 1:12 pm by and

    Federal and state regulators are considering new rules applicable to naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and technologically-enhanced NORM (TENORM) in oil and gas waste.  We discuss some of the most recent and expected developments below.

    Pennsylvania

    PADEP TENORM Study

    On January 15, 2015, PADEP released the results of its TENORM study, which focused on quantifying TENORM associated with oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania.  PADEP’s study examined the full spectrum of potential exposure pathways, from well sites, to wastewater treatment plants and landfills, to gas distribution and end use.  While PADEP’s overall observation from the study was that there is “little potential” for radiation exposure from oil and gas development, the agency recommends additional study that could lead to additional regulations or a change in practices.  Some of PADEP’s recommendations moving forward are set forth below: (more…)


  2. Reforming the Argentinian Oil and Gas Regime

    Friday, January 16, 2015 9:15 am by and

    In order to prevent the increase of energy prices and to safeguard domestic supply, at the start of the millennium the Argentinian federal government made various amendments to the legal regime regulating the exploration and production of hydrocarbons.  Such measures included the introduction of a system of regulated prices and the prohibition of exports until domestic demand had been satisfied.  Following these changes, oil and gas production and exports declined and Argentina has subsequently had to manage a reduction in its energy self-sufficiency as fuel imports have increased.

    Following months of extensive negotiations in 2014 between the federal government, the regional oil-producing provinces, YPF and other key members of the private oil and gas sector in Argentina, the Argentinian Congress passed a new law amending its hydrocarbon regulatory framework (the “New Hydrocarbon Law”).  (more…)


  3. White House: Oil & Gas Industry Must Cut Methane Emissions By 40-45%

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 3:33 pm by and

    On January 14, 2015, the White House  announced that it would for the first time directly regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.   By choosing to regulate methane directly rather than regulating VOCs, EPA may be seeking to create a legal basis (and perhaps even a legal obligation) to regulate methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations in the future.

    According to the announcement, the oil and gas sector will need to reduce its methane emissions by 40-45% from 2012 emission levels by 2025. Although this announcement did not indicate how industry must achieve these steep reductions, it did clarify that EPA will propose regulations in the Summer of 2015 that will apply to new and modified oil and gas sources.  Because these regulations would be proposed under the Agency’s authority under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, they will not reach existing sources.  A final EPA rule is expected in 2016 that would cover activities and equipment such as oil and gas well completions, compressor stations, pumps, gathering stations, and other transmission sources.  (more…)


  4. Upcoming FERC-566 Filing Deadline and Proposed Revisions to Part 46 Filing Requirements

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015 10:56 am by

    The filing deadline for FERC-566, the Annual Report of a Utility’s 20 Largest Customers, is coming up on January 31, 2015.  Under this annual filing requirement, public utilities are required to prepare and publish a list that includes any company, firm, or organization that is one of the 20 largest retail purchasers of electric energy purchased (for purposes other than resale) from the public utility during any one of the three preceding calendar years.[1]  Even if no retail sales were made, under the regulations, public utilities are currently required to submit a brief filing notifying the Commission of that fact.  This requirement is codified in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC” or “Commission”) regulations at 18 C.F.R. Part 46.  (more…)


  5. FERC Enforcement – What to Expect in 2015

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015 4:27 pm by and

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Office of Enforcement (Enforcement) recently released its annual report on enforcement activities for 2014.  As is typical, Enforcement identified its primary concerns as detecting and deterring fraud and manipulation in its markets and ensuring the safety and reliability of the grid.  Enforcement also released statistics on its 2014 settlements ($25 million in civil penalties, $4 million in disgorgement) but those statistics concern cases that began years earlier and shed little light on what market participants should expect in 2015.[1]  In order to predict what we are likely to see in 2015, and the potential risks that companies may face from Enforcement actions, it is helpful to examine the currently pending cases and to understand the most recent internal changes within Enforcement.  Also relevant to predicting what market participants can expect in 2015 are the following:  the reach of FERC’s manipulation authority is being challenged in the courts, the Department of Energy’s Inspector General (IG) is examining FERC’s enforcement process and FERC will have a new Chairman and head of Enforcement in 2015.  The current pending cases and these developments shed more light on what to expect in 2015 than the statistics FERC released concerning 2014.

    In 2014, market participants, for the first time, showed a willingness to challenge Enforcement actions instead of settling.  Five companies have refused to pay assessed civil penalties and settle thereby causing Enforcement to go to Federal court or to an administrative law judge to enforce the penalty and manipulation claims.[2]  These cases present the first court challenges to the reach of FERC’s anti-manipulation authority.  We should expect more challenges in 2015 because another company has publicly vowed to challenge FERC should FERC proceed with a charge of manipulation.[3]  However, unless and until the courts narrow Enforcement’s reach, we should expect that Enforcement will continue to be aggressive in its prosecutions. (more…)


  6. FERC Approved Settlement with Twin Cities

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014 3:07 pm by

    On December 30,2014, the Commission approved four Stipulation and Consent Agreements (Agreements) between the Office of Enforcement (Enforcement) and Twin Cities Power – Canada, Ltd., Twin Cities Energy, LLC, and Twin Cities Power, LLC (collectively, Twin Cities), and Jason F. Vaccaro, Allan Cho, and Gaurav Sharma (collectively, the Traders).  Enforcement accused Twin Cities and the Traders of violating the Commission’s anti-manipulation rule by manipulating electricity prices in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO) from January 2010 through January 2011 in order to benefit their related financial positions.  Twin Cities admitted the violations and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $2,500,000 and disgorgement of $978,186 plus interest. Twin Cities will also implement measures designed to ensure compliance in the future, including submitting compliance reports for four years.

    The Traders neither admit nor deny the violations and agreed to pay the following civil penalties: Jason Vaccaro, $400,000, Allan Cho, $275,000, Gaurav Sharma, $75,000. Additionally, the Traders agreed to physical trading bans as follows: Jason Vaccaro for five years, Allan Cho for four years, Gaurav Sharma for four years.  The Traders will also implement measures designed to ensure compliance in the future, including submitting compliance reports. (more…)


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