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Transport and storage
What rules and procedures govern the transportation and storage of oil and gas resources in your jurisdiction?
Transportation and storage of oil and gas are almost entirely regulated by the Regulator for Energy and Water Services, whose authorisation is required for the carrying out of such activities. In particular, the regulator is responsible for establishing the procedure for granting authorisations for the operation of pipelines and storage facilities, and for monitoring and reviewing third-party access conditions to oil and gas infrastructure.
How is cross-border transportation of oil and gas resources regulated?
Cross-border transportation of oil and gas is regulated to a limited extent under Maltese law. Malta has no oil and gas pipelines at present and tanker vessels are therefore the only means of transportation for the importation of oil and gas in Malta.
From a licencing perspective, any person seeking to carry out the activity of an importer of petroleum requires authorisation from the Regulator for Energy and Water Services under the Petroleum for the Inland (Wholesale) Fuel Market, Bottling of Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Primary Storage Facilities Regulations. For purposes of these regulations the term ‘petroleum’ includes all hydrocarbons, whether liquid or gaseous, including natural gas and crude oil.
Are there specific provisions governing marine and ground transportation of oil and gas resources?
With respect to marine transportation, the Petroleum (Importation, Storage, and Sale) Ordinance requires the agent of a ship carrying cargo consisting in whole or in part of petroleum to give the Authority for Transport in Malta at least three days’ prior notice of its arrival and to report the nature and particulars of the cargo. In addition, on the order of the Comptroller of Customs a sample of the cargo on board the vessel may be extracted for testing.
From a safety perspective, the Authority for Transport in Malta has put in place various regulations governing the marine transportation of dangerous cargo (including petroleum products), bunkering operations and other activities involving the handling of petroleum.
Ground transportation of oil and gas is mainly regulated by the Motor Vehicles (Carriage of Dangerous Good by Roads) Regulations. For purposes of these regulations, petroleum products (including both natural gas and crude oil) are classified as dangerous goods and accordingly any vehicle transporting such products must adhere to the requirements laid down in the regulations. These requirements include appropriate marking of the vehicle and the provision of fire-fighting equipment.
Construction and infrastructure
How are the construction and operation of pipelines, storage facilities and related infrastructure regulated?
Authorisation from the Malta Planning Authority is required for the construction of all developments, whether on land or sea. Thus, any person seeking to construct pipelines, storage facilities or other oil and gas infrastructure would require a development permit from the authority.
The permitting process may involve the execution of various studies – most importantly, the environmental impact assessments which are required under the Environment and Resources Authority Act. The length of the permitting process ranges from three months to one year, depending on the studies and assessments required. Developments requiring full environmental impact assessments will generally take longer.
With respect to storage facilities, the Petroleum for the Inland (Wholesale) Fuel Market, Bottling of Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Primary Storage Facilities Regulations require that all petroleum storage facilities, whether onshore or offshore, are designed and constructed in accordance with specific standards and safety requirements as may be prescribed by the Regulator for Energy and Water Services or another competent authority. For purposes of these regulations, ‘petroleum’ includes all hydrocarbons, whether liquid or gaseous, including natural gas and crude oil.
The laying of submarine cables and pipelines on Malta’s continental shelf requires a licence from the prime minister in addition to the development permit. Likewise, no artificial island, installation or structure may be constructed on the continental shelf without a licence from the prime minister.
Regarding operations, authorisation from the regulator is required for the operation of a pipeline or petroleum storage facility. The regulator can suspend or revoke any authorisation in case of a breach of licence conditions or failure to abide by any directive issued by the regulator. An authorised operator must, among other things, keep detailed records of all its petroleum activities and maintain adequate insurance policies relevant to its activities and operations.
Another type of operating permit (namely, an integrated pollution prevention and control permit) may also be required from the Environment and Resources Authority for the operation of specific installations, including storage facilities. This permit must be obtained by the operator of the installation prior to commencement of operations.
What rules govern third-party access to pipelines and related infrastructure?
At present, Malta has no pipelines and therefore no specific regulation concerning third-party access to oil and gas pipelines. At present, the only rules governing third-party access with respect to oil and gas infrastructure relate to liquefied natural gas facilities – specifically, storage facilities. These rules are set out in the Natural Gas Market Regulations.
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