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What preliminary environmental authorisations are required before commencing oil and gas-related activities?
The main environmental authorisations required for commencing oil and gas-related activities are:
- the environmental impact appraisal;
- the sole environmental licence;
- authorisation from the Federal Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources for the operation of petroleum industry activities that issue or may issue gases, liquids or solids into the atmosphere; and
- authorisation and registration of a management system for industrial safety, operational safety and environmental protection.
What environmental protection requirements apply to the operation of oil and gas facilities?
The National Agency of Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection for the Hydrocarbons Sector will issue the official Mexican standards that will regulate the environmental protection requirements for the operation of oil and gas facilities.
What are the consequences of failure to adhere to the relevant environmental regulations and to what extent can operators be held liable for environmental damage?
Violations of the General Law for Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection are punishable with:
- a fine equivalent to 30,000 to 35,000 days of minimum wage;
- a temporary or definitive closure;
- an administrative arrest of up to 36 hours;
- the confiscation of instruments and products; or
- the suspension or revocation of licences, permits and authorisations.
Operators awarded hydrocarbon exploration and extraction agreements have a transition stage for startup in order to carry out assessments to allow for the establishment of an environmental baseline before beginning the petroleum activities, which allows for the identification of pre-existing damages. Operators are liable for all environmental damages, except those pre-existing damages previously approved by the National Hydrocarbons Commission and the National Agency of Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection for the Hydrocarbons Sector.
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