ASEA Takes Weight off PROFEPA's Shoulders

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 16:06

One of the newcomers that have arrived on the new energy scene is the Safety, Energy, and Environment Agency (ASEA). In January 2015, ASEA became responsible for overseeing environmental compliance throughout the entire value chain of the hydrocarbons sector. “Due to the relevance attributed to environmental security in the oil and gas sector, it was deemed necessary to create a specialized agency with specific attributes for industrial inspections and environmental security.

“These are areas that previously fell under PROFEPA’s remit in terms of inspections and supervision, and SEMARNAT in terms of approving environmental assessment,” according to Guillermo Haro, Federal Attorney of PROFEPA. ASEA’s mission is to guarantee people’s safety and environmental integrity while bringing legal certainty to the industry. Its vision over the next ten years is to be the agency that helped the Mexican oil and gas industry become one of the safest and cleanest in the world.

Given the scope of the oil and gas sector, Haro claims ASEA will have an enormous undertaking. For instance, there were close to 450 environmental emergencies resulting from illegal pipeline theft in 2014 alone. This gives ASEA plenty of material to work on in order to initiate its operations. Since ASEA is a relatively new agency and still lacks certain resources, it has relied on PROFEPA’s assistance in following through on a significant proportion of its responsibilities. Both entities have signed agreements so that PROFEPA can act on behalf of ASEA, ensuring a smooth transfer of responsibilities. PROFEPA has concluded the process of conceding approximately 600 files to ASEA. This transition period will continue until ASEA has the necessary staff to fully undertake its duties. Even though PROFEPA is currently helping ASEA with personnel requirements, the attorney’s office has not undergone any staff alterations.

Throughout 2015, PROFEPA has helped ASEA with its inspection activities, although the attorney’s office will progressively withdraw from the hydrocarbons sector. Haro believes that leaving the hydrocarbons sector in the hands of ASEA will enable PROFEPA to focus on other industries that present environmentally sensitive issues.