On August 18 2014 the Law of the National Agency for Industrial Safety and Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector was published in the Federal Official Gazette, as a consequence of the recent structural energy reform.
The comprehensive reform created the Agency for Safety, Energy and Environment (ASEA), a specialised, decentralised administrative body of the Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) dedicated to the environmental requirements of the hydrocarbons sector. Further, on October 31 2014 the ASEA internal regulations were enacted; these came into effect on March 2 2015, marking the formal start of ASEA's activities.
In general terms, ASEA has been granted the authority to design and implement all environmental and safety matters and policy in the oil and gas industry – with responsibility for granting the permits and licences required to execute projects from an environmental and safety standpoint – and to execute enforcement actions in all projects linked with the hydrocarbons sector.
ASEA's scope of authority and what should be understood as the 'hydrocarbons sector' are defined by the new Hydrocarbons Law, which covers the following activities:
- recognition and superficial exploration, as well as the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons;
- the treatment, refinement, alienation, commercialisation, transportation and warehousing of oil;
- the processing, compression, liquefaction, decompression, regasification, transportation, warehousing, distribution and sale of natural gas;
- the transportation, warehousing, distribution and sale of liquefied gas;
- the transportation, warehousing, distribution and sale of oil products and diesel; and
- transportation and warehousing through pipelines of the products of natural gas processing and refinery.
ASEA is the authority in all safety matters and standards to be followed in oil and gas projects; it oversees the implementation and assessment of preventive policies and can penalise, suspend or even cancel projects that do not comply with such requirements – or that could otherwise cause accidents, damage or impairment to the environment or humans.
Regarding environmental matters, ASEA is competent to:
- grant, suspend, revoke or deny authorisations concerning environmental impact and risk matters and their corresponding accident prevention programmes, air emissions, waste management matters (both hazardous and special management), change of forestry land use and other connected environmental aspects of oil and gas projects;
- issue permits for releasing genetically modified organisms for the purpose of remediation of contaminated soil caused by these projects;
- determine actions required for the remediation and compensation of environmental damage;
- require the granting of insurance and warranties to comply with terms established in the relevant authorisations and the risks triggered in the execution of oil and gas projects;
- carry out inspections into compliance with environmental and safety regulations, policies and measures, including relevant permits granted thereto;
- impose corrective measures and penalties for infringements of environmental provisions and regulations; and
- determine and implement the relevant environmental policy for the hydrocarbons sector, including issuing the specific guidelines and regulations required for the implementation of relevant projects.
All matters associated with the exploitation of national waters required for projects related to the hydrocarbons sector – as well as wastewater discharges into national waters – will continue to be subject to the National Waters Law and its regulations and to fall under the jurisdiction of the National Water Commission.
Finally, although ASEA formally began its activities on March 2 2015, it is currently subject to a transitional phase, which requires the cooperation of SEMARNAT and the Federal Environmental Prosecutor for the purpose of:
- transferring the relevant files of authorised and ongoing hydrocarbons-related projects;
- transferring files for ongoing administrative procedures; and
- providing technical and legal assistance as deemed necessary until the agency attains full operational capability.
For further information on this topic please contact Juan Francisco Torres Landa, Mario Jorge Yanez, Brenda Rogel Salgado or Jeanett Trad Nacif at Hogan Lovells BSTL, SC by telephone (+52 55 50910157 or +52 55 50910165) or e-mail (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
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