The Ministry of Mines and Energy ("MME") issued Resolution 40295 of October 7, 2020, in which it established the technical criteria for developing offshore hydrocarbons exploration and production projects in the country to promote safe, sustainable, and responsible development of the sector (the "Resolution").
Through the Resolution, the MME determined the mandatory technical requirements for operations under contracts entered into with the National Hydrocarbons Agency ("ANH") or with Ecopetrol S.A. for the development of drilling, well intervention, and production activities of hydrocarbons in offshore reservoirs whether in shallow, deep and/or ultra-deep waters, seeking to promote the development of such activities in a safe, sustainable and responsible manner.
Thus, the provisions of the Resolution are mandatory for operating companies or their contractors. Notwithstanding, upon justified request of the operating company, the ANH can approve the application of rules, standards, or practices different from those included in the Resolution, guaranteeing the same or better conditions concerning the sustainable and responsible development the exploration and production of hydrocarbons offshore.
Among the provisions to be highlighted of the Resolution are the following:
- Before the commencement of offshore exploration and/or production, the operating companies must submit a copy of the Process Safety Management program before the ANH.
- Operating companies must provide their employees and require their contractors to be trained and certified in responsible practices of occupational health, industrial safety, and environmental matters. Likewise, operating companies must define minimum emergency response profiles and protocols and ensure that personnel involved in the operation comply with these profiles and protocols.
- The wells must be planned with the purpose of reducing at the lowest level that is reasonably possible the risks associated with the loss of hydrocarbons containment and the loss of wells integrity in offshore hydrocarbons exploration and production activities.
- Operating companies must ensure that design, drilling, and completion activities are duly carried out to achieve appropriate mechanical and structural conditions and guarantee the integrity of the well during its life cycle.
- Before the beginning of the offshore fields' production phase, the Operating Company must submit to the ANH the development plan for offshore operations. The ANH can request new information regarding such a plan; the response to such request shall be a condition for the initiation of the hydrocarbon’s exploitation operations.
- The offshore hydrocarbons production units must have the approval of the ANH prior to their entry into operation. Such approval shall be given in the framework of an inspection visit determined by the ANH.
- The ANH, directly or through specialized third parties, may carry out programmed inspections of the drilling and well intervention equipment and units to determine that the operations are carried out following the Resolution's provisions.
- Breaching any of the provisions contained in this Resolution shall be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of Article 67 of the Petroleum Code, as amended by Article 26 of Law 1753 of 2015.
The Resolution can be found at the following link: