Law No. 2395-1 “On Subsoil” dated 21 February 1992 (as amended) (the Subsoil Law) has been recently amended.
The most important changes include the following:
1. Before the amendments were introduced, the Subsoil Law required the completion of exploration (prospecting and evaluation) in relation to the entire licensed area of federally significant subsoil plots (as defined by article 2.1 of the Subsoil Law) before the rights for the detailed exploration and production could be granted to the licence holder by the Russian government and this rule applied to all subsoil users whether controlled by foreign investors or not.
Now, the subsoil user can carry out exploration (prospecting and evaluation) within the federally significant subsoil area at any stage of development of that area, i.e. during the detailed exploration and production stages provided such subsoil user is not a foreign investor or a legal entity controlled by a foreign investor.
Similarly, the requirement to obtain the Russian government’s consent to carry out the detailed exploration and production within the federally significant subsoil plot applies only to subsoil users who are foreign investor or controlled by foreign investors, while previously this rule applied to all subsoil users.
2. The Subsoil Law now provides for the possibility to rectify errors, typos and other mistakes made in the process of the issuance or reissuance of subsoil use licences, including mistakes made in respect of the boundaries (geographic coordinates) of the subsoil plots. These rectifications can be made either pursuant to an application by the subsoil user or upon the licensing authorities’ initiative if they identify the relevant mistakes themselves.
It appears that such rectification will be qualified and formalised as addendum to the subsoil use licence.