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Powered by the attorneys of Bracewell & Giuliani, Energy Legal Blog® is your resource for updates and analysis on national and global energy issues.
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  1. NY High Court Upholds Local Bans on Hydraulic Fracturing

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014 8:49 am by

    On June 30, 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, held that municipalities can effectively “zone out” oil and gas operations by passing zoning ordinances that ban oil and gas production activities, including hydraulic fracturing, within municipal boundaries.  The court rejected claims that the state’s Oil Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) preempts efforts on behalf of local authorities to ban hydraulic fracturing operations.

    In 2011, the Town of Dryden, New York banned hydraulic fracturing by passing a zoning ordinance that prohibited “all activities related to the exploration for, and the production or storage of, natural gas and petroleum.” Norse Energy challenged the ordinance, arguing that the Town of Dryden lacked authority to prohibit natural gas exploration and extraction activities because the OGSML preempts local zoning laws that curtail energy production.  The lower court concluded there was no evidence of express or implied preemption in the OGSML.     (more…)


  2. U.K. Announces Unconventional Petroleum Licensing Model Clauses

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:39 am by , and

    Energy Minister Michael Fallon took the opportunity on 24 June 2014 at the UK Shale Conference to cite the energy security crises in the Ukraine and Iraq as further reason for the UK to focus on shale gas and oil exploration.

    In the latest step towards the development of the UK shale industry, revisions to petroleum licence Model Clauses will be implemented to accommodate the practicalities of fracking compared with recovery of conventional resources. Specifically, and recognising that shale plays may cover vast areas (see, for example, the Bakken formation in North America and the Bazhenov formation in Russia), existing rules relating to operations and retention of acreage will be amended to allow greater flexibility for unconventional resource development. (more…)


  3. Environmental Regulations Impacting the Energy Industry – Summer 2014

    Friday, June 20, 2014 11:06 am by


  4. OSHA’s Permian Expansion Signals Increased Scrutiny of Safety in the Oil Patch

    Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:00 pm by and

    During a 2013 visit to Texas, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor and Administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), spoke at multiple stakeholder events of OSHA’s growing concerns with respect to worker safety in the Texas oil patch. Dr. Michaels left no doubt during his Texas visit that he and his agency would devote greater resources to regulating the industry.

    Last week, as part of that enhanced enforcement focus, OSHA announced that it is elevating its Lubbock location from a district office under the El Paso area office to a full area office. The agency is also growing its enforcement team in the Lubbock office, adding three new compliance officers who will concentrate primarily on oil and gas operations.

    (more…)


  5. Underground Drilling Access for UK Shale Developers: The 300 Metre Question

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014 3:29 pm by and

    Since the lifting of the fracking moratorium in December 2012, the UK Government has continued to work with regulators and the industry to develop a clear regulatory regime for shale gas which encourages exploration and investment while protecting public safety and the environment. Steps taken to date include:

    • the introduction of tax incentives to support early development of onshore oil and gas projects, including shale gas projects (as described in our blog post); and
    • the publication of the Strategic Environmental Assessment for Further Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing, which assessed the environmental effects of future onshore oil and gas licensing in the UK, as well as the publication of new planning guidance which clarifies the interaction of the planning process with the environmental and safety consenting regimes (as described in our blog post). (more…)

  6. East Africa Licensing Update

    Monday, May 19, 2014 2:18 pm by and

    When bidding in Tanzania’s 4th Offshore Licensing Round was officially closed on 15 May, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) announced bids by CNOOC, RAK Gas, ExxonMobil/Statoil, Mubadala and Gazprom and with other licensing rounds in the region scheduled; there remain opportunities for exploration companies with an eye on the market to secure fresh acreage. (more…)


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