First phase of developing the repository structure and building the search engine is planned for delivery in April 2017

Unite a wealth of data regarding regulations for natural gas with the knowledge of legal scholars and those from other areas, via a digital tool as the technological interface. In short, this is the proposal set forth by the team of the Research Centre for Gas Innovation – RCGI. Under the coordination of attorney Hirdan Katarina de Medeiros Costa, collaborating professor of the Energy and Environmental Institute (IEE), this initiative seeks to organize a legal repository that pulls together the legal and regulatory aspects of dealing with natural gas.

Besides compiling Federal and State legislation, specifically from the State of São Paulo, the service will enrich the legal content with issues and contextualizations raised by minds from the academic sphere. “The idea is to enrich the content of the regulations through questions raised by the academicians themselves. As a first step, we are sending a questionnaire to the researchers of all of RCGI’s projects, in an attempt to identify the difficulties faced by those agents with regard to the regulations. And these data, put into context, will be added to the repository as content for complementing those regulations,” explains Isabela Morbach, an attorney and researcher on Ms. Costa’s team, which also includes a trainee and another five collaborating researchers.

Isabela states that the service will also contain filters created to facilitate the work of those who are doing research on the subject. “Some examples: within the natural gas supply chain, we will create filters according to specific phases: exploration, production, processing, transport, distribution, and commercialization. We will also create filters according to technical areas that focus on regulatory agencies, such as petroleum and natural gas companies. And we will also put a filter in place for the legal area, for institutional competence….”

According to her, more than 500 regulations for natural gas came up in a preliminary study of a Senate database. “RCGI is seeking an agreement with the Senate, because we found that it has a very good, open database called LEX ML. This is a catalogue of all Federal regulations. When we typed “gás natural” (natural gas, in English) into the search engine, we got 590 regulations in response, including laws, regulatory instructions, decrees….”

The technical structure of the repository and the application for anchoring the content, that is, a search engine, will likely be delivered during the first half of 2017. It will be hosted on the RCGI site (/). The research team has already asked for price quotes for putting together the structure and the search engine. Isabela states that the companies being regulated (market players, large petroleum and natural gas companies…) will be the biggest users.

Besides this search mechanism, an interface created by the team will probably contain a glossary; a space for readers to chat and to receive information; lists of bibliographical references on the subject (regulations and natural gas); and a section answering relevant questions. The data will be open and the search engine will be free, where interested persons merely need to fill out a registration form.

“We want to deliver the basic structure already in April. At least the site, with the legislation and filters included. At the same time, we are holding conversations with partners, like ARSESP (Sanitation and Energy Regulatory Agency of the State of São Paulo) and the Federal Senate, to see about the feasibility of partnering with government bodies. It is our understanding that, if the site proves to be useful, it will maintain itself. And the partners are important for its maintenance, in exchange for information….”

In a preliminary assessment of the Brazilian regulations for natural gas, Isabela raises two important issues: “First, it is very difficult to precisely identify the limits of the competencies between the Federal entities. Second: there is a certain ‘lack of interchange’ among the regulations. This has to do with overlapping competencies, or lacunas between them. We hope that our repository, when commented upon and questioned by those who deal with the difficulties imposed by the regulations, can help shed light on the subject and focus on important points regarding regulations for natural gas.”