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What preliminary environmental authorisations are required before commencing oil and gas-related activities?
Before issuing a licence or awarding an energy contract, the Ministry of Energy appoints experts to examine the relevant activity and its impact on the environment. Individuals and legal entities must submit information on the relevant measures they intend to take in order to mitigate any adverse effects that their activities might have on the environment. If they fail to do so, the ministry will not issue the permit or award the contract.
Further, the following approvals must be obtained from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources:
- a passport for hazardous waste; and
- an environmental examination conducted by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and a positive opinion issued as a result of an environmental impact assessment.
What environmental protection requirements apply to the operation of oil and gas facilities?
Requirements apply pursuant to the following:
- the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (implemented by Law 690-IIQ/2004);
- the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (implemented by Law 830-IQ/2000) and the Protocol on Water and Health (implemented by Law 372-IIQ/2002);
- the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (implemented by Law 89-IIQ/2006); and
- the Environment Protection Law (678-IQ/1999).
When engaged in energy production, cleaning installations must be used in order to reduce the amount of waste. These in turn must be equipped with devices which decontaminate the surroundings. Moreover, natural resources should be used effectively and efficiently.
Health, safety and environment protection programmes, as well as abandonment (sinking) funds, are established under production sharing agreements.
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?
Penalties for violating the environmental regulations include administrative fines and criminal penalties, depending on the nature of the violation. The state is entitled to recover damages from a subsoil user which causes environmental pollution. Different standards of civil liability apply depending on whether the liability is to the state or to third parties.
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