Supreme Decree No 48/2009-EM

Last updated: 8 September 2020

This regulation bans natural gas venting in oil and gas operations. Exceptions are made for contingency and emergency situations or those qualified as unavoidable. The General Hydrocarbons Directory (DGH) of the Supervisory Agency for Investment in Energy and Mining (OSINERG) is responsible for overseeing these requirements.

Contingency and emergency venting must be reported within 24 hours and further detailed in up to 10 days, with the final report stating related risks, volumes, duration, incident information and actions taken to reduce the risk of such an occurrence happening again accompanied by an executive chronogram.

A procedure is set to qualify venting as unavoidable. A request must be presented 15 days before the operation, with a description of the venting activities, the reasons for the lack of alternatives, expected volumes of gas vented, event duration and actions to reduce or eliminate venting accompanied by an executive chronogram.

The DGH is responsible for approving such exemptions and the OSINERG for taking necessary actions, including pertaining sanctions and enforcement measures. This decree also outlines transitory dispositions, providing from six months to one year for operating facilities to conform, depending on the adaptations needed.

Furthermore, the regulation establishes new requirements for wells with swabbing operations, as follows:

    • When not under intervention, linings and tubes must be closed. Before interventions, wells must be opened with due safety and environmental protection measures.
    • Alternatively, wells can be connected and open to flow lines that collect gas and send it to the production system.
    • Swab wells that when closed accumulate pressures equal to or greater than 50 pounds per square inch of pressure (psi) must, when not under intervention, be permanently connected and open to flow lines that collect and send the gas to the production system.

Lastly, Supreme Decree No 48/2009-EM indicates what can be done with natural gas that is not sold. Namely: used in operations in accordance with the Organic Law for Hydrocarbons; reinjected in reservoirs; stored in natural reservoirs; or flared. Flaring programs, including those related to well testing activities, must be approved by the DGH and presented to the OSINERG.

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