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By Laura Suleimenova

Image 0In May the RoK law "On Introduction of Changes and Additions into Ecological Code of Kazakhstan" will be referred to Mazhilis for consideration. This topic was one of the main items on the agenda of the 13th legal conference held at TCO head office.

According to speaker Berik Bimuratov, the vice-chairman of the committee of ecological regulation in oil and gas industry under the RoK Ministry of Energy, a few proposals from subsoil users have been reflected in the law.

In particular, their requests related to temporary placement of waste have been accommodated. According to the existing Environmental Code, the storage and disposal are considered “waste emplacement" that entails payment for environmental emission.

- The draft of the law introduces the definition "temporary storage of waste" which is not waste emplacement and, therefore, it is not necessary to pay for it. However, the term of temporary storage cannot exceed one year. This change is important for subsoil users who are actively performing drilling operations, since they are compelled to pay fines for drill cuttings stored on drilling platforms and that were not disposed by the contracting company responsible for its processing, - said Bimuratov.

In the new law the issue of technological failures resulting in abnormal emissions into the environment have been envisaged. According to the representative of the Energy Ministry, penalties or increased taxes shouldn't be imposed on those emissions:

- At this stage there is an understanding of the general criteria of technological failure, the analysis and rapprochement of positions is ongoing. Here we require expert's opinions taking into account the Kazakhstan and international experience re. the start and operation of gas-processing plants.

The painful issue for subsoil users - so-called "threefold responsibility" for violation of ecological legislation has been raised.

The first aspect is tax. In particular, the current legislation grants the right to local representative bodies to raise the rates established by the Tax Code by 20 times.

- Besides, item 10 of Article 495 of the Tax Code provides application of a tenfold rate payment for emission into environment over the established norms. Major subsoil users suggest to exclude these items from the Code, - says Bimuratov.

According to him, at the same time the state agencies are concerned that cancellation of those items will be reflected in replenishment of state budget. The Energy Ministry proposes an accommodating solution - to establish a differentiated increase of payment rates for emission into environment depending on the extent of the violation. In case emissions exceed the norms not more than 10% - the rates are increased 2 times, if not more than 50% - the rates are increased 3 times, from 50 to 100% - 5 times, over 100% and more - 10 times.

As for administrative responsibility, the subsoil users suggest to cancel administrative penalty completely or to calculate it on the basis of monthly calculation indicator (MCI) and not to charge it at a 10-fold rate for emission. However, state agencies and parliamentarians are against these proposals.

The third aspect of "threefold responsibility" is civil. TCO, according to Bimuratov, takes a tough stance: to apply only a direct method of compensation for damage, excluding from the Environemtal Code the possibility of application of an indirect method.

To recall, the direct method implies the calculation of actual expenses necessary for restoration of environment. The indirect method of damage assessment is applied in cases when the direct method can't be applied, and considers a number of factors, including violation of climatic balance, reduction of animal population, deterioration of qualitative characteristics of natural resources, etc.

The position of the state agency is unambiguous: it is impossible to exclude from the legislation an indirect method of assessment of ecological damage by no means.

State agencies also don't agree with the proposal of subsoil users to direct the payments to state budget for emissions only for environment restoration activities. The state budget has a lot more other items of expenditure …

Photo taken by the author

April 22 2015, 11:35

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