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Issues of legal support of environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation
This article presents a legal analysis of regulatory legal instruments constituting legal sources that regulate relations in the sphere of environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation.
environmental safety, oil transportation.
The issues of environmental protection are important in any field of a contemporary man’s activity. The issues of environmental safety are particularly topical for transportation of crude oil and petroleum products, because specifics of this business determines the need to build an effective system for prevention of transportation accidents and develop special measures for eliminating accidental spills of crude oil and petroleum products. According to Environmental Center of the Fuel and Energy Complex (Non-Profit Partnership), oil stock losses range from 3.5% to 4.5%. Accordingly, at the current extraction level of 510 million tons per annum losses range from 18 to 23 million tons per annum, in money terms – from USD 14.2 billion to USD 17.2 billion (electronic resource: Environmental Center of the Fuel and Energy Complex’s website. URL: http://cetek.ru/).
Oil transportation accidents affect the entire environment, and depending on the accident site harm can be done to any water body, land plot, soil, subsoil area or woodlot, while there are also harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
In practice, the situation with accidents associated with transportation and storage of crude oil and petroleum products in Russia remains extremely dangerous. Oil pipeline accidents produce severe environmental effects. Pipeline breakings lead to massive blowouts of oil in the ground or on soil surfaces, oil infiltrates rapidly and gets deep into the subsoil forming the so-called lens. While oil is relatively easy to collect from the soil surface, the lens is very difficult to handle. The soil will be affected for many years, during which it will have no plant cover (Baskakov, 2003).
Besides, oil and gas extraction plants are high on the list of national economy sectors by the level of adverse environmental effect (Amirov, 2004).
They pollute almost all environmental spheres – atmosphere, hydrosphere (surface and ground waters) and geological environment.
In this regard, the issues of legal support of environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation are topical. The analysis of legal sources revealed the following facts. This area of legal regulation has policy documents aimed at establishing legal frameworks to ensure environmental safety in general and during transportation of crude oil and petroleum products.
Nowadays, there is State Program of the Russian Federation “Energy Efficiency and Energy Sector Development” approved by Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dd. April 15, 2014 (Resolution of the Government, 2014). This Program includes Sub-Program “Energy Saving and Improvement of Energy Efficiency” devoted to enhancement of competitiveness, financial sustainability, energy and environmental safety of the Russian economy, and improvement of living standards and quality of the population by implementing the energy saving potential and increasing energy efficiency through modernization, technological development and transition to rational and environmentally aware use of energy resources.
The major strategic guidelines of long-term state energy policy are:
— energy safety;
— environmental safety in the energy sector;
— energy efficiency of the economy;
— budgetary efficiency of the energy sector.
The issues of environmental safety of energy resources transportation are primarily related to the issues of technical regulation (Alekseev, 2005). Domestic laws are legally based on technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment systems approved at the level of the EurAsEC or Customs Union. The said regulations are developed in accordance with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). Technical regulations are applied for protection of human lives and/or health, property, environment, animal and/or plant health, for prevention of actions that can mislead consumers, and for provision of energy efficiency and preservation of resources.
Along with policy documents, general legislative acts and special acts, including local acts, were developed and adopted to ensure environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation.
The general definition of environmental safety can be found in the special Law “On Environmental Protection” (Federal Law, 2002). Environmental safety means the condition of protection of the natural environment and vitally important interests of the individual against any possible adverse effect of business and other activities, natural and anthropogenic emergencies and their consequences. Cl. 3 of the Model Law on Strategic Environmental Assessment stipulated the notion of environmental safety guarantee meaning official reports issued according to the national legislative requirements, which confirm compliance of strategic plans of territorial development and complex territorial programs of social-and-economic development at the municipal, regional and national levels with the environmental safety standards (Model Law, 2011).
The legal relations arising in environmental safety are regulated by “GOST R 52104-2003. “National Standard of the Russian Federation. Resources Saving. Terms and Definitions” approved by Resolution of the Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology of the Russian Federation dd. July 3, 2003 No. 235-ст (GOST, 2003).
Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On Industrial Safety of Hazardous Production Facilities” specifies legal, economic and social bases for safe operation of hazardous industrial facilities and arrangements for prevention of accidents at these facilities and preparedness of organizations operating hazardous industrial facilities to localize and eliminate consequences of the said accidents (Federal Law, 1997).
Order of the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service “On Approval of the Safety Guide for Oil Depots and Stores” contains recommendations on provision of industrial safety in designing, construction, general overhaul, technical re-equipment, reconstruction, temporary shutdown and removal of oil depots and stores, while it is not a regulatory legal instrument (Order, 2012). It defines methods and ways for provision of safe transportation of crude oil and petroleum products through industrial pipelines.
Federal Target Program “Modernization of Russia’s Transport System (2010-2020)” (Resolution, 2001) is of great legal interest. The Program’s aims focused on creating transport conditions for innovative development of the Russian Federation and improvement of Russian citizens’ living standards are:
— enhancement of complex safety and stability of the transport system;
— improvement of investment climate and development of market relations in transportation.
There were plans to issue the following bills included in the Plan of Legislative Drafting Activities of the Government of the Russian Federations for 2010 for legislative support of safe transportation of crude oil and petroleum products:
- “On Extraction, Refining and Main Pipeline Transportation of Oil Stock and Refinery Products”;
- “Technical Regulations on Safety of Main Pipelines for Transportation of Liquid and Gaseous Hydrocarbons” (Plan, 2009).
This initiative of the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation – the federal executive body authorized to develop and implement state policy and legal regulation in the fuel and energy complex (including oil-extracting and oil-refining industry, oil transportation) – is attributable to the fact that the mechanisms of state regulation in the oil sector stipulated by the laws of the Russian Federation are insufficient for development of the branch (Dzhavakhyan, 2010).
Bill of the Technical Regulations on Safety of Main Pipelines for Transportation of Liquid and Gaseous Hydrocarbons dd. April 22, 2011 was approved by the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in the first reading (Resolution, 2011). It was included in the Tentative Program of Legislative Drafting Activities of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for December 2013.
The bill determines the aims of its adoption:
1) protection of life and (or) health of citizens, property of individuals and legal entities, state and municipal property;
2) protection of the environment, life and (or) health of animals and plants;
3) prevention of actions misleading purchasers;
4) provision of energy efficiency (Bill, 2011).
In its turn, this document will set additional requirements to the main pipeline at all stages of its life cycle, rules for identification of the main pipeline for the law-enforcement purposes, rules and forms of assessment of the main pipeline conformity to the legislative requirements, and is focused on provision of environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation.
The bylaws also determine standards of payment for pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. They are regulated by Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation “On Standards of Payment for Pollutant Emissions into the Atmosphere by Stationary and Mobile Sources, for Pollutant Dumping in Surface and Ground Water Bodies, inter alia, Through Centralized Water Disposal Systems, and for Disposal of Production and Consumption Waste”. In applying this document, it should be recognized that it is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation that legally regulates the issues of payment for adverse environmental effect (Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation, 1992).
However, the laws of the Russian Federation have no specific standards and rules covering regulation of emissions of volatile organic compounds during sea transportation of oil, in terms of environmental protection the environmental laws of the Russian Federation stipulate prevalence of international legal standards, if domestic laws do not cover these issues or if Russian legislative standards contradict the major international standards.
The analysis of court practice helps to identify causes of accidents and, consequently, to justify measures aimed at prevention of situations affecting the environment. Once we shed light on the reasons of adverse environmental effect during transportation of crude oil and petroleum products, we will be able to choose legal remedies aimed at reducing the adverse effect and, consequently, ensuring environmental safety. Thus, for example, the Decision of the Usinsky City Court of the Komi Republic (case No. 2-308/11) stipulates the following technical and organizational causes of accidents during transportation of crude oil and petroleum products:
– lack of production oversight of the industrial safety requirements;
– failure to take measures for adjustment of an operated oil depot to the industrial safety requirements;
- failure of a responsible employee at the oil depot to measure and define the weight of accepted, stored and transported petroleum products during oil acceptance/supply.
The above reasons of adverse environmental effect lead to conclusion that major harm is attributable to improper arrangement of companies’ activities aimed at ensuring environmental safety; failure to comply with the industrial safety requirements; failure to take measures for adjustment of operated facilities to the industrial safety requirements, etc. It seems that under such circumstances, the most effective legal remedy for improvement of environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation may be the Technical Regulations on Safety of Main Pipelines for Transportation of Liquid and Gaseous Hydrocarbons, which was planned to be adopted in 2009.
A law on business activities in operation of such a hazardous industrial facility as pipeline transport that will reasonably define basic principles of legal regulation of business activities in operation of pipeline transport is also needed for development of unified legislation.
Model Law “On Pipeline Transport” of the CIS countries can be taken as an example of such a legal approach to ensuring environmental safety. It particularly contains such principles as:
– priority of safety of the state and citizens during pipeline transportation of products;
– obligatory state regulation of safe functioning of pipeline transport facilities;
– compliance with the industrial and environmental safety requirements in designing, functioning, development and removal of pipeline transport facilities;
– authorization-based procedure for activities in designing and operation of pipelines, prohibition to use technologies, materials and equipment without certificates of conformity to national standards;
– safeguarding of interests of all parties to relations in pipeline transport, priority of advanced technologies in designing pipelines;
– accountability of infringers of legislative standards in pipeline transport;
– obligatory full compensation of any harm done to the environment and damage to the state, citizens and legal entities caused by construction, operation and removal of pipelines and resulted from failure to comply with any regulatory instruments (Model Law, 2001).
With regard to improvement of arrangements aimed at ensuring environmental safety of crude oil and petroleum products transportation, we should mention the following solutions to problems, which implementation will contribute to development of a unified court practice and provision of stable relations in this sphere:
– development of a common system-based conceptual framework;
– formation of principles and methods of state regulation of activities in the oil complex;
– detailed determination of rights and duties of parties to legal relations in oil transportation.
In this regard, these amendments shall be added to Bill “On Extraction, Refining and Main Pipeline Transportation of Oil Stock and Refinery Products”, and a unified complex legal instrument shall be developed that will govern relations in safe transportation of crude oil and petroleum products.
- Alekseev, P.D., Zubarev, V.G., etc. Ecology and Nature Management: Study Guide / P.D. Alekseev, V.G. Zubarev, etc. Moscow: All-Russian Research Institute for Organization, Management and Economics of the Oil and Gas Industry, 2005. 37 p. (in Russian).
- Amirov, A.D. Protection of the Subsoil and Environment from Pollution / A.D. Amirov. Baku: Nedra, 2004. р. 60. (in Russian).
- Dzhavakhyan, A.O. On the Concept of the Federal Bill on Extraction, Refining and Main Pipeline Transportation of Oil Stock and Refinery Products / A.O. Dzhavakhyan // Legislation. 2010. № 3. (in Russian).