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  1. BOEM Seeking to Overhaul OCS Offshore Financial Assurance Requirements

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014 1:22 pm by and

    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    Based on the assumption that existing bonding regulations are outdated and fail to adequately deal with the changed business landscape in which organizations now conduct offshore activities, the BOEM is seeking public input as it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…)


  2. Mexican President Signs Historic Energy Reform Into Law

    Monday, August 18, 2014 2:45 pm by and

    On Monday, August 11, 2014, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a package of energy secondary laws passed by the Mexican Congress (the “Legislation”) that will overhaul the Mexican oil and natural gas, petrochemical, and power generation industries[1].  The Legislation includes nine new laws and amendments to several current laws.

    The cornerstones of the Mexican oil and gas reforms are the Hydrocarbons Law (Ley de Hidrocarburos) and the Hydrocarbons Revenue Tax Law (Ley de Ingresos Sobre Hidrocarburos). These new statutes regulate, among other items: (i) “entitlements” (asignaciones) granted to state-owned entities, such as Pemex; (ii) the types of exploration and production contracts that will be granted to Mexican and foreign operators as well as joint ventures between certain state-owned companies such as Pemex and private parties; (ii) the rules for the granting of such contracts and execution by the National Hydrocarbons Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos or “CNH”) through a public bid process; and (iv) the regulations for midstream and downstream activities, which will be overseen by the Ministry of Energy (Secretaría de Energía or “SENER”) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (Comisión Reguladora de Energía or “CRE”). (more…)


  3. 9th Circuit Appeals Court: Clean Air Act Permits Must Address Latest EPA Requirements

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014 2:58 pm by , , and

    On August 12, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit issued under the Clean Air Act (CAA) by EPA to the Avenal Power Center.  Sierra Club v. EPA, No. 11-73342 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2014).  The PSD permit authorized the construction of a 600 MW natural gas-fired plant located in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  The plant was required to install state-of-the-art pollution controls for all traditionally regulated pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide.  The Court vacated the PSD permit because it found it was improper for EPA to issue a PSD permit that did not address new CAA requirements that were promulgated by EPA after the application was submitted.

    Although EPA has the authority to grandfather pending applications, it must exercise that authority through regulation by setting an effective date for the new regulation which would make the regulation applicable to permit applications submitted after a given date.  When EPA does not address grandfathering in its regulations, the court stated that all PSD permits that are not final prior to the effective date of the new rule must be revised to address any new regulatory requirement, even if the permit had already been through the public comment process.  The Court implied that any new assessment would likely need to go through a separate public comment process.  (more…)


  4. EPA Considering Major Changes to Risk Management Program

    Monday, August 11, 2014 12:49 pm by and

    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…)


  5. Latest UK Onshore Licensing Round Announced

    Monday, July 28, 2014 1:09 pm by , and

    The UK Government has today announced the opening of the eagerly anticipated 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round, with applications invited until 2pm on 28 October 2014.

    Hundreds of blocks are available in the bidding process. The Government is keen to encourage onshore exploration and drilling and to facilitate the development of a shale industry in the UK.

    The previous onshore licensing round was in 2008.

    For more information, refer to the Government guidance at: https://www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-licensing-rounds.


  6. Battles Continue Over Local Bans on Hydraulic Fracturing

    10:44 am by

    In towns across America, hydraulic fracturing continues to be a hot-button issue, with municipalities in at least twelve states adopting measures to ban hydraulic fracturing altogether on a temporary or permanent basis.  Recent developments in Texas, California, and Colorado demonstrate that battles continue over local bans on hydraulic fracturing. (more…)


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