Tag Archives: energy law

Oil and Gas Alert: Despite earthquake, deep injection wells continue to play a major role in Utica and Marcellus activities


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) determined that an earthquake in Youngstown, Ohio, which measured 4.0 on the Richter Scale on December 31, 2011, was caused by a Class II deep injection well. The Youngstown New Year’s Eve earthquake had been preceded by a number of minor seismic events between March and December of 2011 in the same area. ODNR based its determination regarding the cause of the earthquake on a number of factors. Its most important conclusion is the fact that the well had been improperly positioned over an existing fault line.


Other factors include:


  • The New Year’s Eve earthquake originated in the same location as the Youngstown well with an epicenter on a fault line 9,842.5 feet below the surface, approximately the same depth as the well’s injection site.
  • The seismic activities at the site coincided with injections to the well.
  • Seismic activities did not begin in 2011 until after operation of the well had commenced.
  • Other than the 2011 seismic activities, Youngstown is not a seismically active area.
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Estonian Energy Law Update

The Estonian parliament is currently discussing a bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act (EMA). The bill aims to implement the 3rd electricity directive (2009/72/EC) and to create a solid legal basis for full opening of the Estonian electricity market as from 1 January 2013. The bill was expected to be approved by the end of 2011, but to date, the bill is being debated in the parliament and many amendment proposals have been made to the initial text of the bill.

The full opening of the Estonian electricity market to all consumers from 2013 was agreed in Estonia’s accession treaty to the European Union. Until 2013, the Estonian electricity market is only partially open. About 65 % of the consumers can buy electricity only from the network operators to whose network they are connected (or from a seller nominated by such network operator), and the network operators have a respective selling obligation. The price of electricity sold under the selling obligation is fully regulated, subject to approval by the national energy regulator. Currently, only those consumers whose annual electricity consumption in one connection point exceeds 2 GWh are obliged to buy electricity at the market price from any seller.

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Imbi Jürgen participated at Energy Law Group meeting

On 27 and 28 April 2012, TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE senior associate Imbi Jürgen attended an Energy Law Group(ELG) meeting in Vilnius. During the private session of the meeting, several organisational matters of the group were discussed, including opening of the ELG to new jurisdictions. New Arabic members of the group were introduced.

The public session of the meeting focused on development of Lithuanian energy market towards energy independence. Expert presentations were given on Lithuanian electricity and gas sectors. Amongst other subjects, the participants were given thorough overview of the Lithuanian nuclear energy programme as well as the LNG terminal project in Lithuania. 

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Oil and Gas Alert: U.S. EPA issues first-ever fracking standards

On April 17, 2012 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its long awaited rules setting air emission standards for oil and gas hydraulic fracking operations. This standard is the first significant federal regulation imposed on fracking operations. The Federal EPA had been pushed to issue the standard in a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups (WildEarth Guardians v. EPA, d.d.c., no. 09-00089). The new fracking standard is part of a larger group of New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that will cover new and modified oil and gas production, processing, transmission, and storage. The U.S. EPA is required by the Federal Clean Air Act to establish this standard as part of the National Emission Standards for Air Pollutants (NESAPs) program. 

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Energy Alert: New Florida law encourages renewable energy production

The Florida Legislature recently passed House Bill 7117, which contains provisions on energy efficiency and conservation, renewable electric energy, and renewable and alternative fuels for motor vehicles. Effective July 1, 2012, this legislation changes Florida law governing renewable energy production by increasing the financial incentives for companies pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Specifically, HB 7117 provides tax incentives for renewable energy production, provides cash incentives for property owners who make energy efficient improvements to their property, changes the renewable fuel portfolio by expanding the definition of “alternative fuel” and includes training requirements that provide opportunities for government contracting. Among its most important changes are the expansion of the definition of renewable fuels beyond ethanol and the extension of qualified targeted industry tax refund incentives to suppliers of alternative fuels, even if they supply alternative fuels to utilities, which historically have been excluded from the program. Both of these changes are a boon to Florida’s biofuel industry and are expected to make Florida more attractive to alternative fuel developers and providers. Other changes will reduce regulatory barriers to the provision of renewable energy sources, such as electric charging stations.

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Oil and Gas Alert: The shale revolution

Over the past several months, it has become increasingly clear that Ohio will soon be a significant player in the production of U.S. oil and other hydrocarbons. Lawyers from our Energy Group’s oil and gas team have been advising public utilities and the oil and gas industry for decades. Today, we are helping our clients navigate the complex issues and opportunities in this rapidly changing energy environment.

The shale revolution is just the latest development in the Ohio oil and gas industry, which dates back to the 19th century. In fact, more than 200,000 wells have been drilled.

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Article by associate Karolis Vinciūnas

The magazine Energijos Erdvė published an article “Possibilities for new users of renewable energy resources restricted” by Karolis Vinciūnas, an associate of law firm TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE.

Click here to read the publication (available in Lithuanian).

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British Columbia’s New Energy Plan

Today, the BC Government announced another in a series of many energy plans and strategies.  The 2012 Natural Gas Strategy actually puts energy front and centre for economic development in the Province. The policy released today however was big on ideas, but short on the details.

According to the Government, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is to be the key driver for the provincial economy for decades to come.  The global demand for liquefied natural gas is strong and BC’s estimated natural gas reserves are substantial. Local First Nations have expressed support for LNG facilities and the pipelines that will bring the natural gas from the North. Nominating LNG as a pillar of the BC economy makes good sense. How the new energy plan is implemented is of course, critical.

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TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE advises Tele2 Eesti on acquisition of Televõrgu AS

On 16 January, Tele2 Eesti and the state-owned energy giant Eesti Energia entered into an agreement for the purchase of Eesti Energia’s subsidiary Televõrgu AS for EUR 25 million. Being one of Estonia’s leading telecommunications companies, Televõrgu AS operates a nationwide fibre-optic telecommunications network and offers wireless internet access services named Kõu. The transaction will be closed after permission has been received from the Estonian Competition Authority.

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Energy Alert: Attention Ohio business owners: Are you making the best electricity choice?

A smart electricity choice for your business can save your company a considerable amount of money. Because Ohio now has a deregulated electricity environment, almost invariably you can get a much cheaper price by shopping your electricity load rather than accepting the electricity pricing provided by your current utility. Even the smallest company can benefit from shopping.

Ohio provides additional opportunities for the sophisticated buyer. A company can reduce its electricity costs by taking its load to auction and/or by negotiating directly with electricity providers in order to secure a better rate. AEP recently filed a settlement with interested parties for its new Electric Security Plan beginning January 2012. While the plan is now pending Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) approval, a key item in this plan is a cap on the percentage of customers switching from AEP to a retail supplier. McDonald Hopkins can help you navigate energy choices during this transition period. Additional options for energy savings are available for mercantile customers, defined as commercial or industrial customers that use at least 700,000 kilowatt hours per year. Among these options are:

  • Obtaining a waiver for the costly efficiency rider
  • Exploring alternative tariff rate options
  • Pursuing a unique arrangement
  • Taking advantage of the proposed economic development incentive
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