Event is open to the public and will deal with trends in environmental licensing and the EIA in the sector in the coming years

On April 26, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., the Workshop on EIA and environmental licensing in the petroleum and gas industry: Brazil and Canada will be held. The event is free of charge and open to the public (click here to sign up) and it is organized by the team from project 21 of the FAPESP Shell Research Center for Gas Innovation (RCGI), coordinated by Professor Hirdan Katarina de Medeiros Costa.

“Three presentations will be made regarding instruments of environmental law, like EIA (Environmental Impact Study) and environmental licensing. We want to integrate with our project the idea of environmental law in legislation regarding natural gas,” Hirdan explains. Project 21 is organizing an annotated digital repository of Brazilian legislation about natural gas.

The first speaker is attorney Flora Stevenson, from the Canadian Institute of Resources Law, which is a center for expertise in energy and environmental policy, as well as legislative subjects related to the Province of Alberta, which is the biggest producer of fossil fuels in Canada. She will talk about the EIA in the Canadian petroleum and gas industry, and about how that instrument is used in Canadian law. Following her, is researcher Mariana Miranda, also an attorney, and member of Project 21. She will deal with licensing in the petroleum and gas sector in Brazil. Hirdan closes the event with a roundup of the two previous presentations.

“The EIA and licensing are instruments used whenever there is an activity that presents the possibility of environmental risk. The mining industry, in general, uses these instruments, including the petroleum and natural gas industry,” Hirdan states. “The nonconventional natural gas sector is an example of the weight of the environmental issues on the agenda of the industry, the NGOs, and the State. Public bids were held for some of the nonconventional gas fields a few years ago in Brazil, but the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) filed public civil suits, injunctions, to suspend those contracts,” she adds.

By virtue of court orders, the public bidding contracts for all of the basins were suspended. The National Petroleum, Gas, and Biofuels Agency (ANP) and the Federal Government may not carry out any bidding procedures to explore for nonconventional gas by fracking until an Environmental Analysis of the Sedimentary Area (AAAS) has been done.

At the end of 2016, the State of Paraná sanctioned a law establishing a moratorium on the exploration of nonconventional natural gas for ten years. But for some time, now, municipalities in Paraná have been passing municipal laws that prohibit fracking as a technique for nonconventional natural gas exploration within their territories.

According to Mariana Miranda, the debate regarding the issue of nonconventional gas must move forward. “There still is no possibility of nonconventional gas exploration on shore, because of the actions of the
MPF. And this, in my opinion, will lead to more in-depth environmental impact studies by the government, prior to any fracking activity, before it will eventually be permitted. Reflection and in-depth study, which I believe to be very good actions.”

Ms. Miranda indicates two bottlenecks in the licensing processes that involve natural gas: the communication difficulty between the energy and planning sectors, and the environmental sector, and the conflict between the different Federal organs. “In some cases, there are questions regarding the competencies of the organs, in other cases, there is an overlapping of competencies. This causes big delays in the processes.” In her presentation, Mariana will deal more generally with how the off shore and on shore environmental licensing works, the necessary prior studies, the various competencies among the Federal organs, and the different stages of the natural gas supply chain: research, exploration, production, distribution, transportation, and commercialization.

The preliminary license is one of the authorization types needed for an enterprise to function, which is granted during the preliminary phase of the planning of the enterprise or activity (the other two are the installation license and the operating license).

“In the natural gas industry, each case is its own case. But when there are sensitive environmental areas and protected areas, the economical exploration becomes a more delicate issue, if it does not actually impede. Therefore, the ANP is changing the strategy: it is assessing the sedimentary basins before the public bidding takes place. That assessment will help do the EIA, which is a responsibility of companies that want to explore this resource.”

Hirdan states that this is a trend in the petroleum and gas industry. “The strategic environmental assessment, done before the activity is granted permission, whether under contract or authorization, is a trend in the sector. Instead of the entrepreneur gaining authorization or being granted the job by the government and, then, doing the studies, the idea would be to do the studies first, so that the entrepreneur has a vision of the job, including environmental issues. We will deal with this and other subjects during our workshop.”

Workshop on Environmental Licensing in the Brazilian and Canadian Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry.

When: April 26, 2017

Time: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Place: RCGI room (Mechanics Building) Av. Professor Mello Moraes, 2231
University of São Paulo Polytechnical School, Cidade Universitária

Registration: https://goo.gl/yMHvYU