The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a new policy aimed at reducing the amount of time it takes for companies to deploy unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Specifically, companies that have obtained a Section 333 exemption for a UAS will now receive a “blanket” Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet. In the past, once the FAA granted a Section 333 Exemption the exemption holder would also have to file for a separate COA to fly the UAS in a particular block of airspace. The COA approval process can take 60 days. This announcement comes on the heels of the FAA’s release of a proposed rule governing small UAS flights in the United States. A major component of the proposed rule that stakeholders have supported was the FAA’s introduction of alternatives to the COA process. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
On February 15, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking focused on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) or “drones” within the United States. The release of the UAS NPRM is a step in the right direction that many in the industry have been waiting for since the FAA first chartered the small UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) in 2008.
While some industries may find aspects of the proposal restrictive, many are pleased with the FAA’s initial UAS regulatory effort, which is focused on small UAS or those that weigh less than 55 lbs. The UAS NPRM will at least remove some uncertainty for industry and could trigger more investment in UAS technology. However, the process from release of the UAS NPRM to when a final rule takes effect could take years. Companies looking to operate UAS in the interim are left to navigate one of many current certification processes, which are limited to specific purposes and still involve a bit of uncertainty.
In the meantime, companies interested in deploying their UAS technology as well as industries that see an expanded role for the use of UAS (e.g., energy, agriculture, entertainment) should consider commenting on the FAA’s proposal, which will set the stage for future of UAS regulation. There will be an opportunity to comment for a 60-day period once the UAS ANPR is published in the Federal Register. (more…)
Michael Weller, Salo Zelermyer and Joshua Zive
Drones – or, in Federal Aviation Administration parlance, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) – are proliferating everywhere. In the past few weeks an unmanned drone landed on the White House grounds and the federal government had to issue warnings not to fly drones over the Super Bowl. The energy industry has already begun to exploit UAS’s potential for enhanced efficiency and safety. Likewise, governments are finding ways to use drones to further their monitoring and enforcement efforts. It promises to be very interesting times.
This blog will focus on the use of drones in the energy industry and the FAA’s upcoming proposed regulations governing UAS usage. (more…)
Adam Waszkiewicz and Darren Spalding
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…)
Bryan Loocke and Scott Thompson
On Tuesday August 19, 2014 the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) provided an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register. BOEM is seeking to update its regulations and program oversight for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) financial assurance requirements, and has solicited comments from stakeholders to assist its efforts. A full copy of the ANPR can be found at http://federalregister.gov/a/2014-19380.
Based on the assumption that existing bonding regulations are outdated and fail to adequately deal with the changed business landscape in which organizations now conduct offshore activities, the BOEM is seeking public input as it seeks to overhaul the current program encompassing risk management, financial assurance, and loss prevention requirements. (more…)
Michael Weller and Heather Palmer
Spurred by several recent industrial incidents, both onshore and offshore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced several potential revisions to its Clean Air Act Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. The RMP program Request for Information (2014 RMP RFI) contemplates a vast array of changes that could, on the one hand, increase the number of sources regulated, e.g., the addition of ammonium nitrate as a regulated substance; and on the other, increase the costs of those sources currently regulated, e.g., mandatory third-party audits, installation of automated detection and monitoring systems.
Other proposed changes could be controversial or simply difficult for sources to integrate, e.g., mandatory root cause investigations, siting requirements, mandatory disclosure of chemicals and accident history for the facility. At this time, EPA indicates that it is not committed to undertaking a rulemaking and that it is engaged only in information gathering to assess whether changes to the RMP are necessary. Comments on the RFI must be received by October 29, 2014. (more…)