The development of offshore oil and gas resources is under the competence of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology (Minprirody) and its subordinate federal agency:
- Federal Agency for Exploitation of Mineral Resources (Rosnedra)
- Federal Service for Monitoring of Nature Management (Rosprirodnadzor)
- Federal Service for the Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Monitoring (Rostehnadzor)
Main legislative acts are:
- The federal law “About continental shelf of the Russian Federation”
- The federal law “On minerals”
- “Agreement on share of production”
There are also a number of directive and documents such as:
- “Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation for the period until 2020”
- “Energy strategy of Russia for the period until 2020”
- “Strategy for the research and development of oil and gas resources of continental shelf of the Russian Federation for the period until 2020” and others
Granting the right to use areas with underground resources with the purpose of geological examination is done only in relation to those areas, which have been approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation programs of geological examination of areas with subsoil resources, restoration and rational exploitation of mineral resources – for those subsoil areas, which geological examination is funded from the state budget; The areas must also be adopted by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation lists of objects offered for the use, and officially published by the above Ministry according to the legislation of the Russian Federation - for those underground areas, which geological examination is financed from the own funds of users of subsoil resources.
The physical coordinates for the licensed sites are determined by Rosnedra (Federal Agency for Exploitation of Mineral Resources) and approved by Minpriroda (Ministry of Environment). Licensing agreement for exploration and extraction or extraction only defines the order of activity. Site must be registered with the Committee for the State Reserves which can be done only after complex investigations (density of profiles, exploratory drilling, etc). Extraction can be started only after the registration is completed.
License for regional geological exploration and extraction of the continental shelf, must include the following information:
- Environmental provisions for the used areas, including ecological monitoring
- Agreed methods of compensation of damages to the living resources
- Measures for prevention and liquidations of emergencies
- Insurance, conservation and liquidation of the structures upon completion of the work.
Seismic work on the shelf consists of two stages:
- State research (scale 1:1 000 000 or 1:200 000), based on volumes and areas submitted by Rosnedra (Federal Agency for Exploitation of Mineral Resources), takes 2-3 years
- Conduction of more detailed geological research based on the license issued by Rosnedra
Environmental impact assessment is conducted and funded by the developer; results are presented for the ecological expertise conducted by Rostehnadzor (Federal Service for the Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Monitoring) in agreement with Rospotrebnadzor (trade and sanitary inspection authority), Rosprirodnadzor (Federal Agency for Exploitation of Mineral Resources) and Rosrybolovstvo (federal service dealing with fishing activities).
Environmental license for discharge is issued by Rosprirodnadzor and Rostehnadzor, but Minprirody requires “0-discharge” for the arctic shelf.
Information on license availability is open to the public and normally, licenses are given based on the open competition, but can also be assigned without the competition by a state decree (for the oil company Gasprom or Rosneft).
A decommissioning plan is a mandatory part of the project documentation and gets approved by Rostehnadzor. Monitoring guidelines should be developed by Minprirody, but as of today they do not exist and according to the current legislation – are not required for the licensing agreement; there is only a general requirement for rational and safe exploitation of mineral resources. Therefore, developers use international guidelines, in particular –Arctic Council -Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas guidelines, 2002. New guidelines were accepted in 2009 (Arctic Council: Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas guidelines; 2009).
Prior to any type of exploratory activity, project documentation is created and environmental impact assessment is planned. State environmental expertise is conducted on the federal level and its decision is adopted by Rostechnadzor with the prior agreement with Rosprirodnadzor. Rostehnadzor carries out the monitoring and supervision of safety of operations related to exploitation of mineral resources. Rosnedra is responsible via its regional (for terrestrial activity) and MORGEO (for marine activity) departments for monitoring of compliance regarding the geological issues, related to licensing agreement, keeping the state record and balance of mineral deposits and resources, and assignment and cancellation of mineral resources to the state balance in accordance with the established procedure. There have been precedents, when the license was revoked by Rosnedra due to non-compliance with the terms of the beginning of exploratory work. (see also chapter Monitoring of the ecosystem).