On May 4 2020, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (“SEMARNAT”), with the support of the National Agency for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection of the Hydrocarbons Sector (“ASEA”), issued a decree to amend its General Provisions ("DACGs") regarding authorizations in respect of activities in the hydrocarbons sector (the "Decree"). 

The amendments implemented pursuant to the Decree are aimed at: (i) granting ASEA authority to monitor SASISOPA compliance; (ii) including obligations to natural gas and oil transporters and distributors who carry out high risk activities in accordance with article 146 of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection ("LGEEPA"); (iii) authorizing third parties to issue SASISOPA reports; (iv) requiring an "Enabling Document" as a prerequisite of SASISOPA application; (v) defining the stages for SASISOPA registration and for its implementation approval; (vi) clarifying the process to amend the SASISOPA, and (vii) including certain amendments to the general obligations to obtain SASISOPA approval. 

The original publication of the DACGs on May 13, 2016 contained inconsistencies which forced regulated parties to file with ASEA consultations, criteria confirmations and even requests for amendments to the DACGs in an attempt to comply with their obligations thereunder. The foregoing resulted in the issuing by ASEA of a multiplicity of unorganized criteria over time, which created the need to compile and harmonize same by amending the DACGs. 

(i) Changes to SASISOPA monitoring and reporting. 

The Decree now requires regulated parties to monitor SASISOPA implementation on a daily basis and includes the obligation to provide half yearly monitoring reports to ASEA. Failure to comply with said obligations may result in penalties set forth in the LGEEPA and the ASEA law. This new obligations are mandatory to all regulated parties, including those already holding an approved SASISOPA. 

(ii) SASISOPA obligation applicable to high risk natural gas and oil activities. 

Since their original publication, the DACGs were not clear enough as to the activities requiring a SASISOPA. With the issuance of the Decree, the ASEA has provided more clarity in this respect and it now requires an “Enabling Document” for hydrocarbons sector activities, including for “high risk” pursuant article 146 of LGEEPA. 

With the issuance of the Decree, as a general rule, every regulated activity within the hydrocarbons sector, including transporters and distributors of natural gas, LP gas and oil products, must now hold a SASISOPA. 

(iii) Authorized third parties who may issue a SASISOPA Integration Report. 

Since the initial implementation of SASISOPA, a key objective has been to decrease the administrative workload of ASEA. The foregoing was initially sought by delegating to third party experts the authority to approve the SASISOPA, but was not implemented adequately. The Decree introduces the concept of “Integration Report” under which a regulated party will be able to inform ASEA as to its compliance with this obligation through an authorized third party. 

Likewise, authorized third parties are now allowed to issue SASISOPA compliance and monitoring reports.