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Transport and storage

Legal framework

What is the general legal framework governing the transportation and storage of oil and gas resources in your jurisdiction?

The transmission of gas is a federal competence. This includes the transmission of natural gas from production installations and neighbouring countries to distribution system operators and major industrial end users. The primary legislation regarding gas transmission is the Gas Act of April 12 1965. Several royal decrees have been adopted to implement the Gas Act, most notably the Royal Decree of May 14 2002 on transportation licences for gaseous products by way of pipelines and the Royal Decree of December 23 2010. Transmission tariffs are regulated and approved by the federal energy regulator, the Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation (CREG).

Gas distribution is a regional competence and covers the transportation of gas to most end users.

In the Flemish region, the relevant legal instruments are:

  • the Flemish Regional Act of May 8 2009 on general energy policy provisions; and
  • the Flemish government decision of November 19 2010 on general energy policy provisions.

Distribution tariffs must be approved by the Flemish energy regulator VREG.

Gas distribution in the Walloon region is primarily governed by the Walloon Regional Act of December 19 2002 on the organisation of the regional gas market, supplemented with several implementing decisions. Distribution tariffs in the Walloon region must be approved by the Walloon Commission for Energy.

Finally, in the Brussels-Capital region the Ordinance of the Brussels-Capital region of April 1 2004 on the organisation of the gas market in the region is the main legal instrument for gas distribution. The distribution tariffs must be approved by the Brussels energy regulator BRUGEL.

Belgium has no specific rules and procedures on oil transport. Oil is mainly transported through inland waterways, to which general shipping legislation applies.

As regards oil storage, the Strategic Oil Reserves Act contains certain obligations concerning the storage of strategic oil reserves managed by the publicly owned company APETRA.

Transportation

How is cross-border transportation of oil and gas resources regulated?

The gas transmission system operator, Fluxys Belgium NV, has a statutory duty to provide sufficient cross-border capacity to integrate European infrastructure and meet economically reasonable and technically feasible requests, considering security of supply concerns.

Belgium has 18 cross-border gas interconnection points that connect the national gas transport network with neighbouring countries. It is also connected with the United Kingdom through a bi-directional interconnector pipeline, operated by Interconnector (UK) Ltd.

The Port of Antwerp is Belgium’s main oil trading sea port. Crude oil is also supplied to Antwerp through the Rotterdam-Antwerp Pipeline, which transports approximately 30 million tonnes annually. Belgium is also connected with other western European countries through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s Central European Pipeline System (CEPS) network. Cross-border petroleum transport through the CEPS is regulated through international agreements.

Are there specific provisions governing marine and ground transportation of oil and gas resources?

Natural gas is imported through offshore and onshore pipelines. Offshore pipelines include one which imports gas from Norway through the Zeepipe terminal and another which imports gas from the United Kingdom through the Interconnector terminal. Both pipelines are the subject of international agreements between the governments of the respective countries.

Offshore pipelines are, as a rule, subject to:

  • the Act of January 20 1999 on the protection of the marine environment and the organisation of marine spatial planning in sea areas under Belgian jurisdiction;
  • the Act of June 13 1969 on the exploration and exploitation of non-living resources in territorial waters and on the continental shelf; and
  • the Royal Decree of September 7 2003 establishing the procedure for licensing and authorisation of certain activities in sea areas under Belgian jurisdiction.

Onshore transportation of oil and gas is subject to:

  • the Gas Act of April 12 1965;
  • the Royal Decree of May 14 2002 on transportation licences for gaseous and other products by way of pipelines;
  • the Royal Decree of December 23 2010 on the code of conduct concerning access to the natural gas transportation network, storage capacity for natural gas and liquefied natural gas installations;
  • the Flemish Regional Act of May 8 2009 on general energy policy provisions;
  • the Flemish government decision of November 19 2010 on general energy policy provisions;
  • the Walloon Regional Act of December 19 2002 on the organisation of the regional gas market; and
  • the Ordinance of the Brussels-Capital region of April 1 2004 on the organisation of the gas market.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is transported by LNG vessels to the LNG terminal and regasification facility in the Port of Zeebrugge, which serves as the gateway for LNG supply in Northwest Europe. Operation of the terminal is governed mainly by Chapter 6 of the Royal Decree of December 23 2010.

The transport of LNG and oil by vessels and tankers is subject to treaties including the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention), which requires oil tankers to have double hulls. Compliance is monitored by the Federal Agency for Mobility and Transport’s ‘corporate flag state governance II programme’.

Construction and infrastructure

How are the construction and operation of pipelines, storage facilities and related infrastructure regulated?

In general, the construction and operation of pipelines, storage facilities and related infrastructure require an urban planning and environmental permit, in line with regional requirements.

Further, the construction and operation of underground pipelines for the transport of natural gas requires a transport licence from the federal energy minister, in line with the procedure foreseen in the Gas Act and the Royal Decree of May 14 2002. The licence encompasses the right to construct and operate transport installations and related infrastructure. If construction affects private properties, a declaration of common use can be granted by royal decree.

With regard to the construction and operation of offshore pipelines, the Act of June 13 1969 on the exploration and exploitation of non-living resources in territorial waters and on the continental shelf provides that for the construction of certain pipelines a licence must be obtained before construction and the pipeline’s route must be approved by royal decree. Further, a licence may be required under:

  • Article 25 of the Act of January 20 1999 on the protection of the marine environment and the organisation of marine spatial planning in sea areas under Belgian jurisdiction; and
  • the Royal Decree of September 7 2003 establishing the procedure for licensing and authorisation of certain activities in sea areas under Belgian jurisdiction.

What rules govern third-party access to pipelines and related infrastructure?

Third-party access to the natural gas transmission network is subject to the provisions of the Gas Act and the Gas Transmission Network Access Regulation. Under the Gas Act, customers and holders of supply licences have access to transmission networks, storage facilities and liquefied natural gas facilities at the tariffs approved by CREG. The Gas Transmission Network Access Regulation introduces a range of criteria for providing access and pricing thereof. The Royal Decree of May 14 2002 also contains obligations for transmission network operators with regard to third-party access.

Access to distribution networks is subject to payment of regulated tariffs, which are approved by the regional regulators.

There is no regulated third-party access regime applicable to oil other than general competition law. Abuse of dominant position is prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and its Belgian counterpart, Article IV.2 of the Code on Economic Law.

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