Friday, March 27, 2015 1:37 pm by Jason Hutt and Michael Weller
On March 20, 2015, three years after its initial proposal, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized new regulations applicable to hydraulic fracturing activities on federal and Indian lands. BLM previously released a draft proposed rule in May 2012 and revised draft in May 2013.
Key aspects of the final rule include requirements to: (1) request approval of hydraulic fracturing before commencement of operations; (2) disclose chemicals after completing hydraulic fracturing activities (preferably via FracFocus); (3) perform well integrity and cement evaluation tests and obtain approval if cement remediation is required; (4) use steel tanks for the storage of recovered waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing; and (5) supply information on estimated fractures and existing wellbores to reduce the risk of impacts to existing wells, i.e., “frack-hits.” (more…)
Category: Environmental, National Energy Law, Shale Development, Upstream Energy
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:53 pm by Michael Weller
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…)
Category: Midstream, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Offshore, Power, Regional Energy Law, Shale Development, Transmission, Upstream Energy
Thursday, March 19, 2015 8:03 am by Alastair Young, Darren Spalding and Adam Waszkiewicz
The existing tax regime for exploration and production of oil and gas in the UK and UK Continental Shelf (“UKCS”) comprises three elements:
(i) Petroleum Revenue Tax (“PRT”) at a rate of 50% which is levied on profits from fields given development consent before 16 March 1993;
(ii) Ring Fence Corporation Tax at a rate of 30% levied on the post-PRT profit of companies engaged in oil and gas extraction activities; and
(iii) Supplementary Charge at a rate of 30% (with effect from 1 January 2015, prior to the 2014 Autumn Statement this was levied at a rate of 32%) which is levied on the post-PRT profit of companies engaged in oil and gas extraction activities, (more…)
Category: Regional Energy Law, Tax, Upstream Energy
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 1:17 pm by Michael Weller
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published in the Federal Register its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking focused on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “drones” within the United States. The publication in the Federal Register starts the clock on the 60-day comment period, which at this point ends on April 24, 2015. My recent blog outlined the FAA’s general framework for the UAS ANPR, including the main operating limitations.
Today, I’ve listed below some of the major areas where the FAA is seeking input from stakeholders, including Risk Mitigation, Line-of-sight, Payload, International, Size Class, Crewmember, Testing Site, and other issues. Among other things, the FAA is looking for comments on the feasibility of its proposal, alternatives, any new technology that could inform its decision, data and studies.
The FAA specifically is seeking comment on: (more…)
Category: Enforcement, Environmental, Midstream, National Energy Law, Natural Gas/LNG, Shale Development, Transmission, Upstream Energy
Saturday, March 7, 2015 8:21 pm by Gregory Bopp, Robert Jacobson, Elizabeth McGinley, Curtis Beaulieu and Elizabeth Behncke
Following a year long pause, the IRS announced Friday that it has resumed its review of pending private letter ruling (PLR) requests and is accepting new PLR requests concerning MLP qualifying income under Section 7704(d)(1)(E) of the Internal Revenue Code. During the qualifying income ruling pause, which began in March 2014, the IRS postponed consideration of taxpayer requests for qualifying income PLRs in order to study issues related to qualifying income and to consider broader interpretive guidance to the MLP industry.
In addition, according to statements made by an IRS official, the Treasury Department will issue proposed regulations in the near future that address qualifying income. The issuance of proposed regulations will be a significant development in this area, as PLRs historically have been the primary source of interpretive guidance on the scope of activities generating qualifying income. Although no details on the substance of the proposed regulations were given, the IRS indicated that the proposed regulations will address qualifying income related to midstream, upstream and downstream activities, as well as oilfield services activities. In addition, it is our understanding that generous transitional rules will be provided for MLPs and other taxpayers that previously received PLRs that may be inconsistent with the proposed regulations once they are finalized. (more…)
Category: Master Limited Partnerships, Midstream, National Energy Law, Upstream Energy
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 1:35 pm by Michael Weller
Last week, the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that certain oil and gas-related ordinances of the city of Munroe Falls are preempted by the state’s oil and gas law. State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp., Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-485. The decision is the latest in an ongoing battle being waged over the authority of local governments to zone or regulate the operations of oil and gas companies. Often, the success or failure of a local government’s ordinance depends on whether it aims to “regulate” oil and gas operations or simply control their location according to traditional zoning principles.
While a win for industry in this case, the Supreme Court’s holding in State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp. was limited to the ordinances at issue in the case and does not go as far as recent rulings in Pennsylvania and New York that were focused on zoning authority. Previously, in July 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional certain sections of the recently passed “Act 13” that would have removed a municipality’s ability to zone out oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Huntley & Huntley, Inc. v. Oakmont Borough Council, 600 Pa. 207, 964 A.2d 855 (2009). Then, in August 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals held that municipalities can effectively “zone out” oil and gas operations by passing zoning ordinances that ban oil and gas production activities. Wallach v. Dryden, 23 N.Y.3d 728, 992 N.Y.S.2d 710 (2014). (more…)
Category: Courts, Enforcement, Environmental, Natural Gas/LNG, Regional Energy Law, Shale Development, Upstream Energy