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Legal Newsletter

Amendment to the Petroleum Law

Daniel Vlasceanu – Partener, Vlasceanu, Ene & Partners

RO

17 Martie 2020

Modificarea Legii petrolului nr. 238/2004

In data de 27 februarie 2020, a fost publicata in Monitorul Oficial Ordonanta urgenta 27/2020 (“OUG 27/2020”) pentru modificarea si completarea Legii petrolului nr. 238/2004 (“Legea petrolului”).

I. Securitatea nationala – motiv explicit de refuzare/ denuntare a acordurilor petroliere

  • 1.1 Refuzarea unor acorduri petroliere viitoare

    Este normal ca unui stat sa ii fie recunoscut dreptul de a refuza acordarea unei licente (sau operatiuni) petroliere pe motive de securitate nationala. Acest drept este prevazut in Art. 2 alin. (2), randul al doilea din Directiva 94/22/CE privind conditiile de acordare si utilizare a autorizatiilor pentru prospectare, explorare si productie a hidrocarburilor („Directiva”).

    Directiva [si Legea Petrolului modificata, in art. 31 alin. (1)] permit statelor membre ale UE sa exercite acest drept in privinta cererilor primite de la companii din afara UE.

  • 1.2 Incetarea acordurilor petroliere in curs

    Alin. (2) al aceluiasi Art. 31 permite Guvernului [la propunerea Agentiei Nationale pentru Resurse Minerale (ANRM)] sa denunte unilateral un acord petrolier in curs pe motive de securitate nationala.

    In cazul exercitarii acestui drept (in special, daca s-au facut deja cheltuieli) va trebui sa ia in considerare riscul de arbitraj international; totusi, este fara de indoiala ca principiul reglementat este in acord cu spiritul Art. 2 din Directiva 94/22/CE.

II. Transferul concesiunii; preluarea controlului asupra unui titular de acord

  • 2.1 Transferul concesiunii petroliere

    Anterior modificarii Legii Petrolului, transferul unui acord petrolier era aprobat numai de catre ANRM. Procedura este detaliata in Capitolul IX din Normele de aplicare a Legii Petrolului.

    In prezent, dupa modificare, orice transfer al unui acord petrolier urmeaza sa fie aprobat prin Hotarare de Guvern (la propunerea ANRM).

    Evident ca aceasta formalitate va determina sporirea efortului si a duratei unui proces de transfer.

  • 2.2. Preluarea controlului

    Anterior modificarii, transferul de actiuni/ schimbarea controlului asupra unui titular putea interveni fara vreo aprobare din partea autoritatilor romane (cu exceptia formalitatile de la Registrul Comertului, daca titularul era o entitate romana).

    Legea Petrolului modificata prevede acum ca, transferul de actiuni ale titlularului va fi aprobat prin Hotarare de Guvern (la propunerea ANRM). Este interesant de mentionat faptul ca Guvernul ar putea decide fie (i) mentinerea, (ii) modificarea sau chiar (iii) denuntarea respectivului acord petrolier. Nu sunt prevazute criterii care ar putea influenta Hotararea Guvernului, altele decat referinta la alin. (2) al aceluiasi Art. 31 (i.e. securitatea nationala).

    ANRM trebuie notificata in legatura cu un eventual transfer. Nerespectarea acestei obligatii atrage:

    • incetarea calitatii de titular, in cazul in care exista mai multi titulari de concesiune. Nu se precizeaza ce se-ntampla daca titularii ramasi nu doresc/ nu pot sa preia participatia vacanta.
    • incetarea de drept a acordului petrolier cu titular unic.

Acest newsletter a fost pregatit exclusiv in scop de informare generala si nu se va interpreta ca si consultanta juridica. In masura in care considerati util sa aflati mai multe despre aspectele ce fac obiectul acestui newsletter, va rugam sa ne contactati.

EN

17 March 2020

Amendment to the Petroleum Law no 238/2004

On 27 February 2020, the Government Emergency Ordinance no 27/2020 (“GEO no 27/2020”) amending the Petroleum Law no 238/2004 (“Petroleum Law”) was published in the Official Gazette.

I. National security – explicit reason to deny/ unilaterally terminate petroleum agreements

  • 1.1 Denial of future petroleum agreements

    It is only normal to recognise a state the right to deny a licensing application (or petroleum operations) based on reasons of national security. It is stated under Art 2, para 2, second line under Directive 94/22/EC on the conditions for granting and using authorizations for the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons (the “Directive”).

    The Directive (and the amended Art 31 para 1 of the Petroleum Law) enable EU states to exercise such right on companies from outside the EU.

  • 1.2 Termination of ongoing petroleum agreements

    Para 2 of the same Art 31 enables the Government [upon proposal of the National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR)] to unilaterally terminate an existing petroleum agreement based on national security reasons.

    The application of such right (especially, in case of consumed expenses) must consider the risk of an international arbitration; however, it is beyond any doubt that the underlying principle is in line with the spirit of Art 2 of the Directive 94/22/EC.

II. Transfer of the concession; change of control over a titleholder

  • 2.1 The transfer of the petroleum concession

    Prior to the amendment of the Petroleum Law, the transfer of a petroleum agreement was falling under NAMR’s authority. The procedure is detailed under Chapter IX o the Application Norms.

    At present, following the amendment, any transfer of a petroleum agreement is to be approved by Governmental Decision (upon NAMR’s proposal).

    It is beyond doubt that such additional formality will add time and effort to a transfer process.

  • 2.2. Change of control

    Prior to the amendment, a shares transfer/ change in control at the titleholder’s level did not require any Romanian authority approval (other than the Trade Registry formalities, if the titleholder was a Romanian entity).

    The amended Petroleum Law now sets forth that in case of a transfer of shares of a titleholder, such transfer is to be approved by Governmental Decision (upon NAMR’s proposal). It is relevant to mention that the Government may decide (i) to maintain, (ii) to amend or (iii) to unilaterally terminate the respective petroleum license. There no reference as to what might influence the Government’s decision, other than mentioning para 2 of Art 31 (i.e. national security).

    NAMR must be notified regarding such envisaged transfer. Disregarding this obligation might entail:

    • termination of the capacity as titleholder, if there are multiple titleholders. It is not regulated what happens in case the remaining titleholders are unwilling/unable to take over the vacant participating interest.
    • de iure termination of the petroleum agreement with a single titleholder.

This newsletter was prepared solely for general information purposes and shall not be construed in any way as legal advice. Should you find it useful and want to know more about the issues presented herein, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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