Recently, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) held that EU Member States are not obliged to require an environmental impact assessment for all exploratory drillings.  However, the Court’s decision can also be interpreted as requiring Member States to demand such impact assessment if the drillings can be classified as “deep drillings” and,

Member States continue to adopt national and divergent rules on hydraulic fracturing across Europe.  Last week, the United Kingdom facilitated hydraulic fracturing operations by adopting its Infrastructure 2015 Act.  In contrast, Germany is considering the adoption of a legislative proposal that is intended to be more restrictive than the European Commission’s Recommendation on Hydraulic Fracturing

On December 30, 2014, the California Office of Administrative Law approved permanent regulations issued by that state’s Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“Division”) governing fracking.  The regulations follow the Division’s final interim regulations (effective January 1, 2014), which we discussed here, and further implement California’s fracking statute (SB 4),

On January 22, 2014, the European Commission published its Communication and Recommendation on Shale Gas.  The documents finally published are essentially the same as the draft versions that we reported in our blog post of January 17, 2014 and only introduce minor changes.

Among other things, the Recommendation now confirms that it “neither implies that

The European Commission is expected to adopt a communication and recommendation on the exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbons (especially shale gas).  The draft communication and recommendation, which are still subject to change, are being discussed among the cabinets of the 28 Commissioners of the European Commission as part of the 2030 climate change package, which the Commission intends to present on January 22, 2014.

The draft communication and recommendation are likely to be seen as a political compromise within the Commission and among Member States.  The two documents also allow the Commission to provide non-binding rules on the exploration and exploitation of shale gas in Europe for the next 18 months, a transitional period during which a new European Parliament must be elected and a new Commission must enter into office.  In effect, the draft communication and recommendation leave it to the next Commission to decide whether to propose binding legislation if the recommendation is not sufficiently effective.
Continue Reading The Upcoming European Commission’s Recommendation on Shale Gas: A Transitional Political Compromise?

California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources just issued final interim regulations (effective January 1, 2014) to implement California’s new fracking statute (SB 4), with permanent rules to follow by January 2015.  For an overview of the fracking statute, see our September E-Alert.

The Division’s interim regulations are supported by a narrative description that provides the Division’s view of fracking, including the differences between hydraulic fracking, acid fracking and acid matrix stimulation, a brief summary of pre SB 4 requirements and summarizes the SB 4 interim operator requirements.  The interim regulations distinguish well stimulation (which is subject to the regulations) from mere underground injection.  These regulations overlay an existing regulatory framework in California on oil and gas wells that is not specific to fracking and which contains requirements not included in the interim regulations.
Continue Reading California Issues New Interim Fracking Regulations