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Mining, underground storage & CO2

Mineral exploration and extraction are historically inherent to the energy sector. The near-disappearance of energetical products extraction in France – and of raw materials in general – may have eclipsed the significance of the sector, despite fossils remaining France’s main source of energy consumption. A real resurgence of the sector must nevertheless be noted.

Renewable energy transition is shifting our fossils-based economy to a mining-based economy. The pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of European countries to imports, raw materials included. This partially explains the various mining projects announcements, including in France. This is ambitious because it requires the compliance with much tighter environmental and public participation constraints than extra-European practices.

The interest in carbon dioxide capture and storage, or even use, is triggered by the necessity of economy decarbonisation. This may allow for carbon footprint decrease of activities which would otherwise be difficult to decarbonise through other means such as electrification. The legal framework – partially from European provisions – is in force, although it will likely be enriched over time. It overlaps partially with the legal framework applicable to mining activities. The carbon capture, transmission and storage facilities are yet to build, but several major projects are ongoing.

Finally, natural gas underground storage is critical for the security of supply of Europe. Its legal framework is specific, and different from that of mining activities. The issues faced by the Europeans to secure their supply through gas pipelines, has increased the strategical nature of gas storage. France is well equipped with underground storage facilities and its legal framework has been stable since the 2018 gas storage regulation reform. The few regulatory modifications are now mainly urged by the European Commission, which acknowledged the strategic importance of gas storage.

The firm can provide advice on these various regulatory topics.