Hydrocarbons Operations Environmental Regulations as Amended

Last updated: 23 December 2020

This regulation concerns hydrocarbon activities, including exploration, development and production, storage, transportation, industrialisation and commercialisation of petroleum, oil derivatives, natural gas and associated products, applying to undertakings that may cause significant environmental impacts as defined in their respective environmental study. The Ministry of the Environment is the technical - administrative body that will control, supervise and audit environmental management in hydrocarbon activities as well as perform the evaluation, approval and monitoring of the environmental studies.

It also requires that oil and gas undertakings control atmospheric emissions, effluent discharges, solid waste, and other sources of pollution from operated facilities. Operators and related parties shall comply with the permissible emission limits that appear in Annexes No. 1, 2 and 3 of the regulation. They shall also implement an environmental monitoring program that guarantees compliance with these standards and include reporting to the Undersecretary of Environmental Protection.

Furthermore, project proponents must obtain an environmental permit from the competent environmental authority. The decision to issue or deny such permits shall be supported by an environmental impact assessment process. The regulation also outlines requirements applicable to categories of projects and related types of environmental studies. Moreover, operators must use up to date equipment and technologies that conform to environmental standards as discussed and evaluated in their environmental studies.

Hydrocarbon activities are further obliged to report yearly on the activities carried out under their environmental management plan and submit for approval a proposal for the following year. The related emissions monitoring plans must be in accordance with their environmental studies. In addition, environmental auditing is required biannually and must comprise follow-up of environmental monitoring and management plans.

There are no specific provisions regarding methane, but the regulation states that produced gas should be preferably used for reinjection and improved recovery or for the generation of electrical energy. If the technological and economic conditions in certain facilities do not allow that, gas may be flared if previously authorized in accordance with the provisions of the Hydrocarbons Law and considering the maximum referential values ​​established in Table No. 3 of Annex 2 of this regulation and related emissions monitoring requirements. Moreover, flares shall provide adequate temperature and oxygenation conditions to ensure complete combustion of gases. Additionally, proponents must discuss in their respective environmental management plan alternatives concerning flaring technologies and measures to reduce and control emissions.

The regulation also has provisions on safety, training, emergency response, monitoring and follow-up, enforcement and sanctions.

Want to know more about this policy ? Learn more (Spanish)Learn more (Spanish)