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Guidelines for industrial and operational security, and environmental protection in activities of exploration and extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons

Last updated: 15 February 2022

Governs the exploration and production of unconventional resources, including shale gas, tight oil, heavy and extra heavy oil and bitumen, methane hydrates, and coal seam gas. 

Regulated parties must evaluate the environmental impact and perform a risk analysis of their operations and processes, explicitly including their methane emissions (Art 10-13). Well drilling and completion specifications require monitoring, recording and control of methane emissions (Art 20, 41). 

During unloading and gathering stages, regulated entities must rely on methods and equipment for detection of fugitive leaks. The recommended but not limiting set of methods includes laser, acoustic, or infrared detection (Art 79). Companies are left to determine an adequate method to identify, quantify and control leaks. When leaks occur, operators must make a permanent repair, when possible. If provisional repairs must be made, they must be substituted by permanent repairs within 45 days (Art 80). 

Regulated operators can only vent in situations of emergency, and if destruction methods are not possible (Art 102). They must flare (rather than vent) gas that contains about a specified threshold of sulfuric acid. The rule permits flaring in situations that present a risk to safe operations, during production testing outlined in work plans, or when the use is technically or economically infeasible (Art 103). Flares must have automatic ignitions and combustion efficiency of 90 percent or greater (Art 106). 

Companies must submit annual reports that indicate volumes of gas flared and vented, volumes emitted during situations of emergency, composition of natural gas, and meteorological conditions during situations of venting and flaring (Art 110). 

ASEA reserves the ability to carry out inspection and supervision visits (Art 117), as well as to sanction infractions of the rules in accordance with the Law for the National Agency for Industrial Security and Environmental Protection for the Hydrocarbons sector.

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