Committee (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:02 pm on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales 4:02 pm, 9th September 2015

My Lords, I will now speak to government Amendments 33 and 34. Amendment 33 inserts a new Part 2A into the Bill which amends the third-party access to upstream petroleum infrastructure regime found in the Energy Act 2011. Specifically, it amends Section 87 of the 2011 Act, which relates to powers to require information, and inserts new Sections 87A and 87B, which make provision for appeals and sanctions respectively. This amendment requires that where the Oil and Gas Authority issues a notice under Section 87 of the 2011 Act requiring information to be provided, it must specify a time for compliance with that notice.

The amendment also provides an appeal right to the First-tier Tribunal against the issuance of a notice on the grounds that the information required is not relevant to the Oil and Gas Authority’s functions relating to third-party access or that the length of time given to comply with the notice is unreasonable.

Amendment 34 also allows for any requirements imposed by such a notice to be treated as petroleum-related requirements and therefore to be sanctionable under Chapter 5 of the Bill. However, the Oil and Gas Authority will not be able to revoke a licence or terminate an operatorship in relation to such breaches.

Amendment 34 inserts two new sections into the Energy Act 2011, which established the third-party access to upstream petroleum infrastructure regime. New Section 89A allows for applications for access to upstream petroleum infrastructure made under Section 82 of the 2011 Act to be assigned to another party. New Section 89B allows for a new owner of infrastructure to which an application for access has been made to be treated as a party to that application. The amendment also ensures that where ownership of infrastructure in respect of which a notice under Section 82(11) imposing access rights has been issued is transferred, the obligations under the notice transfer as well.

Once such an assignment or transfer occurs, anything that was done by the original party is treated as having been done by the party to which the application was assigned or the ownership transferred. The provisions allow for the third-party access regime to continue rather than having to restart on a change of party and facilitate the transfer of non-commercially sensitive information already provided to the Oil and Gas Authority, and ensure that all new parties are aware of the relevant history of the application.

The amendments will increase the utility of the third-party access to upstream petroleum infrastructure regime, which is an important tool in the Oil and Gas Authority's pursuit of maximising economic recovery for the United Kingdom. I beg to move.