Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Oman Law Digest 2009 - ENVIRONMENT

Environmental and pollution control are the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs which recently bifurcated from the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources pursuant to RD 90/07.

The UN Environment Programme has cited Oman as a country with a good record in environmental conservation and pollution control. Oman has a whole body of environmental laws, principal among them being Law for Protection of Environment and Combating Pollution [RD 114/01]. This law imposes strict penalties for release of environmental pollutants and discharge of effluents in land and marine territory of Oman.

The Environmental regime regulates, among other things, circulation and use of chemicals [RD 46/95]; marine pollution [RD 34/74]; air pollution from stationary sources [MD 5/86]; management of solid non-hazardous waste [MD 17/93]; management of hazardous waste [MD 18/93]; noise pollution in the work place [MD 80/1994]; waste water re-use and discharge [MD 145/93]; occupational health and industrial safety precaution [MD 19/82]; noise pollution in the public environment [MD 79/94]; disposal of commercial waste materials [MD 8/84]; and disposal of liquid effluents into the marine environment [MD 7/84]. Petroleum Law [RD 42/74] and Mining Law [RD 27/03] stipulate environmental standards for items covered by it and Civil Defence Law [RD 76/91] contains provisions relating to fire safety and environment.

Petroleum Law stipulates that prior approval must be obtained to explore, exploit, extract, store or distribute oil and gas resources and to construct or install wells, extracting facilities, plants, separators, refineries, processing plants, pipelines, storage facilities, facilities for water supplies including boring for water, offshore platforms or other installations, sea and submarine loading facilities including facilities to or from the mainland, pumps and pumping stations, lighting and other facilities or works. Exemption from this Law could only be effected by RD.

Concessions are granted to companies by RD for oil and gas exploration. The Law for the Control of Marine Pollution [RD 34/74] prohibits the discharge or release of pollutants from a ship, shore location or oil transport facility in Pollution Free Zones. RD 39/08 ratifies Oman’s accession to International Convention on Oil Pollution, Preparedness, Response and Cooperation 1990 which deals with emergency plans, reporting procedures, and national, regional and international response systems.

All industrial projects must obtain preliminary environmental licence before commencing activity. An environmental impact study must be conducted on site and all measures to minimise pollution must be undertaken. Final environmental licence is granted after commencement of project upon being satisfied that project is compliant with all environmental regulations.

Oman has ratified many international treaties on the environment including the Basel Convention on Transport of Waste and its cross-border disposal, UN Convention on Law of Sea, UN Framework Agreement on Climatic Change, Agreement on Biological Diversification, Convention on Marine Pollution, and UN Agreement on Prevention of Desertification in Countries Facing Severe Arid Conditions.