Contributed by GRATA International.
The legislation of the Republic of Moldova on natural gas and petroleum products is quite stable, as it is a relatively new one, which transposes the European legislation in this regard.
However, Moldova is in an energy crisis from the end of 2021 until now. The crisis is caused by the fact that the Russian company Gazprom, which is the main source of natural gas that supplies Moldova, has reduced its natural gas supplies. This situation arose as a result of the expiration of the contract concluded between Gazprom and S.A. Moldovagaz, in September 2021, and, on the other hand, as a result of the energy crisis at a European level and, respectively, of the increase in gas prices on international stock exchanges. Moldova also has debts for natural gas supplied by Gazprom, and the offer to negotiate a new contract with Gazprom involves a significantly higher gas price than in previous contractual relations and the payment of debts.
This situation has led the authorities to declare a state of emergency in the energy sector. The report on the need to declare a state of emergency states that “natural gas shortages directly and immediately affect the security of the state and its citizens.”
One of the effects felt was that the National Energy Regulatory Agency (ANRE) as the regulatory authority in the field of natural gas and petroleum products increased the tariffs for natural gas. Likewise, the price of petroleum products has increased significantly and this trend continues.
As a result of this situation, the Moldovan authorities are intensely looking for alternative ways of supplying gas. Alternative gas supply means, in the short term, a greater number of alternative suppliers, and in the long term includes the improvement of transport interconnections to provide alternative supply routes and a better assessment/exploitation of existing reserves in Moldova.
2. OVERVIEW OF THE COUNTRY’S OIL & GAS SECTOR
2.1. Legal framework – a brief outline of your jurisdiction’s oil & gas sector
The legislation of the Republic of Moldova regarding oil and natural gas largely transposes the legislation of the European Union. This is due to Moldova’s commitment to harmonize its legislation with the acquis communautaire in the context of the Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova, of the one part, and the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, and their member states, of the other part.
The most important principles enshrined in the legislation in this sector are the principle of equality, which presupposes that all participants in the market for natural gas and petroleum products enjoy equal rights, regardless of the type of ownership and legal form of organization and the principle of free access to the natural gas market.
As a result of the gas crisis, one of the country’s main objectives is to ensure the security of natural gas supply to the Republic of Moldova, especially through the diversification of supply sources and routes.
This issue is of increasing importance especially in the context of the announced cease of gas by the Russian Federation, Moldova’s debts to Russia, and the increase in gas prices. This all happened at the beginning of the cold season.
The total dependence on natural gas imports from only one source, as well as the lack of natural gas storage capacities and supply from other sources (e.g. with liquefied natural gas), create a higher risk of gas supply to the country.
2.2. Domestic oil & gas production and imports/exports
Natural gas production is regulated by Law no. 108 of May 27, 2016, regarding natural gas (the Natural Gas Law). The activity of natural gas production is carried out by the producers on the basis of the license for the production of natural gas. The number of licenses issued for the natural gas production activity is not limited. The license is issued by the National Agency for Energy Regulation (ANRE or Agency). There are currently no valid gas production licenses.
The resources of the Republic of Moldova are very low in natural gas, they are not explored and they are not even produced. Moldova is supplied with imported natural gas. Moldova’s main natural gas supplier is the Russian company Gazprom.
Moldova does not export natural gas.
The import of natural gas takes place exclusively through pipelines. The natural gas supplied by Russia is delivered through the pipeline network with Ukraine. At the end of 2020, the construction of the Iasi-Ungheni-Chisinau gas pipeline was completed. This pipeline is able to cover a large part of Moldova’s natural gas consumption and is thus an alternative to Russian gas. The pipeline is not yet in use, but the government has announced that certain quantities of gas have been delivered to maintain the necessary pressure in the system.
The petroleum products market is regulated by Law no. 461 of July 30, 2001, on the petroleum products market. The activity of producing petroleum products is not regulated by law, but only the activities of:
- import and wholesale and/or retail sale of petrol and diesel at refueling stations;
- import and wholesale and/or retail sale of liquefied gas at refueling stations.
The Republic of Moldova supplies only imported petroleum products. Romania is the main supplier of petroleum products with a total of 99.89% of gasoline and 75.28% of diesel. Other oil-supplying countries are Russia with 17.04%, Bulgaria with 4.92%, Serbia with 1.64%, and Belarus with 1.11% on diesel.
In general, Moldova manages to meet its own energy needs through imported natural gas and petroleum products. However, 2021 was a year of crisis in the energy sector, both in the gas sector and in the oil products sector.
2.3. Foreign investment and participation
There are not any special requirements or limitations on the acquisition of interests in the oil & gas sector by foreign companies. All investors are granted fair and equal conditions of activity. Moldovan legislation grants free access to the natural gas market to all investors irrespectively of citizenship, domicile, residence, place of registration or activity, origin state of the investor, or the investment (Article 6 Law no. 81 of March 18, 2004, on investments in entrepreneurial activities).
2.4. Protection of investment
The Republic of Moldova ratified the Energy Charter Treaty of December 17, 1994, on May 3, 1996, and acceded to the Treaty Establishing the Energy Community of October 25, 2005, (the EC Treaty) through the Law no. 117 of December 23, 2009.
The regulatory policy in respect of the oil and natural gas of the Republic of Moldova is especially influenced by the provisions of the Treaty Establishing the Energy Community. By adopting the EC Treaty, the Republic of Moldova made legally binding commitments to implement the acquis communautaire. In this sense, were adopted Laws no. 108 of May 27, 2016, on natural gas and Law no. 174 of September 21, 2017, on energy, which transpose the commitments of our country in accordance with the provisions of the energy package III.
3. EXPLORATION OF OIL & GAS
3.1. Granting of oil & gas exploration rights
The main Moldovan normative acts in the domain of exploration and extraction of oil & gas reserves are:
- The Subsoil Code no. 3 of February 2, 2009;
- Law no. 108 of May 27, 2016, regarding natural gas.
According to the Subsoil Code, the riches of any kind of subsoil of the Republic of Moldova, including the useful mineral substances it contains, as well as its underground spaces are the exclusive object of the public property of the state, are inalienable, imperceptible, and imprescriptible. Subsoil sectors cannot be alienated, they can only be transferred for use.
The grounds for the emergence of the right of use over the subsoil sectors are the Government decision adopted as a result of the competition for the right to explore or extract useful mineral substances of national importance on the basis of concession and, respectively, the concession contract.
The concession agreement is concluded between the user (investor) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment and contains the conditions of use of the conceded subsoil sectors.
It is the competence of the Government to adopt the decisions regarding the transmission for industrial capitalization of the deposits of useful mineral substances of national importance.
In order to carry out the activity of natural gas production, the producer is obliged to obtain from the Agency a license for natural gas production. The construction and operation of the production facilities are carried out only on the condition that the Government assigns the right to use the subsoil sectors for the extraction of natural gas. Subsequently, the beneficiary is obliged to obtain from the local public administration authorities the building permit in accordance with the law on the authorization of the execution of construction works.
There are not any current major initiatives or policies of the Government in relation to oil & gas development.
3.2. Foreign exploration
Foreign legal and natural persons have the same rights and carry the same obligations for the use of the subsoil as legal and natural persons from the Republic of Moldova, according to the legislation. See Section 3.1.
3.3. Stages of the exploration process
The grounds for the emergence of the right of use over the subsoil sectors are the Government decision adopted as a result of the competition for the right to explore or extract useful mineral substances of national importance on the basis of concession and, respectively, the concession contract.
For the conclusion of the concession agreement, the potential investor has to obtain a list of permits, issuable by Moldovan authorities. A general (non-exhaustive) list:
a) license for natural gas production (issued by the ANRE; validity term: 25 years; state fee: MDL 3,250 Moldovan lei (approximately EUR 165);
b) act on confirmation of geological limits (issued by Agency for Geology and Natural Resources; validity term: five years; free of charge);
c) state ecology expertise (issued by the Environmental Agency; validity term: the period of project implementation; free of charge);
d) environment permit, under certain conditions (resulting from the environmental impact assessment, issued by the Environmental Agency; validity term: four years; free of charge);
e) gas emissions authorization (issued by the Environmental Agency; validity term: one to five years; state fee: from MDL 500 to MDL 4,000 (approximately EUR 25 to EUR 200);
f) positive confirmation of expertise in the domain of industrial security (issued by an authorized expertise entity; validity term: five years; state fee: depends on the complexity of the activity, the equipment, etc.);
g) construction authorizations for works of public utility of national interest (issued by the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure of the Republic of Moldova; validity term: for the period of construction works; free of charge);
h) certificate on the protection of works of public utility and national interests (issued by the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure of the Republic of Moldova; validity term: the period of construction works withholding; state fee: based on the activity and equipment complexity); and
i) sanitary authorization for the functioning of the facility (issued by the National Public Health Agency; validity term: five years; free of charge).
3.4. Obligatory state participation
The general principle is that the use of the subsoil is paid, in the form of money.
Payment for the use of the subsoil is made in the form of:
a) regular payments;
b) compensation of the expenses for the geological exploration works carried out from the means of the state budget.
In particular, the following types of fees/charges can be distinguished:
Subsoil fee for the use of the subsoil in the amount of:
a) 3% of the contractual value (of estimate) of the construction works of the underground objectives;
b) 0.2% of the book value of underground constructions.
Fees for the extraction of useful minerals:
Natural gas (free, dissolved in oil) – MDL 50/cubic meter;
Oil (geological and extractable reserves) – MDL 50/ton.
Government Decision no. 895 dated July 20, 2016, on the concession of works of geological exploration of hydrocarbons on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, with subsequent exploitation by which it was accepted the concession of the geological exploration works of hydrocarbons (natural gas and oil) on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, with their subsequent exploitation, provides that the royalty of the concession of the right to carry out the works of prospecting and evaluation of the deposits of useful mineral substances of national importance, in order to detect the accumulations of hydrocarbons (natural gas and oil) is established in the form of the results obtained by the concessionaire as a result of the accomplishment of these works, namely all true geological information, including the respective annexes (maps, diagrams, profiles, etc.) and the results of laboratory tests obtained in the process of hydrocarbon research works. Reimbursement of investments will be made at the expense of the income obtained from the activity of the concessionaire, without the right to claim them from the grantor.
The concessionaire, obligatorily and free of charge, must present to the State Fund for Information on the Subsoil within the Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources all true geological information, with the respective annexes (maps, diagrams, profiles, etc.) and the results of laboratory tests obtained in the process of hydrocarbon research works.
3.5. Risks to be considered
4. PRODUCTION OF OIL & GAS
4.1. Granting of oil & gas production rights
Natural gas production is a licensed activity, the procedure is provided by the Natural Gas Law. The competent authority is the National Agency for Energy Regulation of the Republic of Moldova.
Companies applying for a natural gas production license must be technically equipped to carry out the activity, have a production facility, and present documents confirming the technical endowment and that the production facility complies with the technical requirements established by law.
The construction, operation, maintenance, increase of the capacity of the production installations and their connection to the natural gas transmission or distribution networks are carried out in accordance with the Natural Gas Law, with Law no. 116 of May 18, 2012, on the industrial safety of dangerous industrial objects and the regulation on connection.
The construction and operation of the production facilities are carried out only on the condition that the Government assigns the right to use the subsoil sectors for the extraction of natural gas. Subsequently, the beneficiary is obliged to obtain from the local public administration authorities the building permit in accordance with Law no. 163 of July 9, 2010, on the authorization of the execution of construction works.
The producer participates in the natural gas market if it complies with the technical requirements for connection to the natural gas network, and the quality of the delivered natural gas corresponds to the established quality parameters. The producer is entitled to sell natural gas on the wholesale natural gas market under the license for natural gas production, and on the retail market for natural gas – provided that he also obtains a license for the supply of natural gas.
The manufacturer must be legally independent of any natural gas transmission, distribution, or storage company. He may not hold a license for the transportation, distribution, or storage of natural gas.
The production of petroleum products is not regulated, such activities are not carried out in the Republic of Moldova.
There are no major current initiatives/policies in this regard.
4.2. Foreign production
The same rules shall apply – see Sections 4.1. and 5.
4.3. Stages of the production process
See Section 3.3.
4.4. Obligatory state participation
N/A in the part of obligatory state participation in the production of oil & gas.
The Moldovan legislation does not provide any restrictions upon the export of gas and oil, except for crisis periods or emergency situations.
4.5. Risks to be considered
5. TERMINATION OF PRODUCTION OF OIL & GAS
5.1. Abandonment and decommissioning
Mining works, objectives, and underground constructions not related to the extraction of useful mineral substances are subject to liquidation or conservation at the expiration of the validity of the contract, at the end of the exploitation of the reserves of useful mineral substances, or at the premature termination of the use of the subsoil.
In the event of liquidation, mining excavations and wells will be brought to a state that will ensure the safety of human life and health, the environment, buildings and constructions, the possibility of using the exploited sector of the basement for other purposes, and in case of conservation, and the preservation of deposits. useful mineral substances, mining excavations, and drilling wells throughout the conservation period.
When the total or partial liquidation or conservation of mining excavations, objectives, and underground constructions not related to the extraction of useful mineral substances, the beneficiary of the subsoil is obliged to ensure, in an established way, the recultivation of lands degraded by mining works.
Liquidation and conservation are carried out in accordance with the technical projects coordinated with the Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources.
The geological, mining and technical topography documentation is completed at the time of completion of the works and is submitted for storage, in an established manner, in the State Fund for information on the subsoil.
The liquidation or conservation of mining excavations, objectives, and underground constructions not related to the extraction of useful mineral substances are considered completed after the signing of the act on liquidation or conservation by the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment.
In order to fulfill the liquidation or conservation works of the mining excavations, objectives and underground constructions not related to the extraction of useful mineral substances, as well as for the recultivation of lands degraded by mining works, the beneficiaries of the subsoil, after putting into operation the objectives. The manner of creation and use of the means of the liquidation and recultivation fund is established by the Government.
5.2. Environmental and HSE consideration
6. SAFETY OF OIL & GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION
6.1. International treaties to which the jurisdiction is a party
The Energy Charter Treaty of December 12, 1994, as of May 3, 1996;
The Treaty Establishing the Energy Community of October 25, 2005.
6.2. Offshore Safety Directive
7. IMPORT, EXPORT, AND SALES OF OIL & GAS
7.1. Import and Export of oil & gas
Special requirements in the context of cross-border exchanges of natural gas are the res-possibility of transmission system operators.
They shall submit to the Agency, at least once every three months or on request, a report on the volume of natural gas delivered in the context of cross-border exchanges of natural gas during the previous months.
The transmission system operator is obliged to build sufficient cross-border capacity to connect the natural gas transmission system of the Republic of Moldova with the natural gas transmission systems of other countries part of the Energy Community and/or to integrate it in the regional market, to respond to all justified requests technically and economically and considering the need to ensure the security of gas supply.
In the context of the development of natural gas transmission networks and investment plans, the transmission system operator must make reasonable assumptions about the evolution of cross-border trade, in particular imports, production, supply, and consumption of natural gas, considering investments for adjacent networks. For this purpose, the transmission system operator shall cooperate with the distribution system operators as well as with the transmission system operators in the neighboring countries.
In order to carry out its functions related to the transboundary transmission of natural gas, the transmission system operator must cooperate with the transmission system operators of the neighboring countries in accordance with the agreements concluded with them.
The pipelines for the transport of natural gas and petroleum products are regulated by Law no. 592 of September 26, 1995, regarding the transport through main pipelines. According to this law, pipelines for the transport of natural gas and petroleum products are built on state-owned land. The structure of the pipeline transport is established by the central public administration bodies. The land is allocated with the right of use free of charge to companies and organizations of transport through pipelines.
The right to use the land free of charge during the operation of natural gas networks is constituted by the effect of the law (Natural Gas Law) without the need to obtain the consent of the state or administrative-territorial units, the conclusion of any legal acts or other formalities.
Transmission system operators must be certified as transmission system operators by the Energy Regulatory Agency and obtain a natural gas transmission license. The license for the transmission of natural gas indicates the boundaries of the territory where the activity takes place. Certification requires companies to meet, in particular, the requirements for the unbundling and independence of the transmission system operator.
For the construction of the objects of transport through pipelines, qualified lands are distributed based on the land cadaster as being unsuitable for agriculture, or lands with low creditworthiness and not afforested. In exceptional cases, by decision of the Government, for the purposes shown, high-quality agricultural land may be allocated. The construction of the pipelines is carried out by the specialized construction-assembly organizations according to the project in compliance with the norms, standards, and rules in construction, approved in an established manner, which regulate the execution and reception of works, as well as commissioning of finished pipelines.
7.3. Land rights
The publicly owned lands of the state or of the administrative-territorial units, necessary for the construction, operation, maintenance, rehabilitation, or modernization of the natural gas transmission and distribution networks, are handed over for use to the system operators free of charge.
On land and other privately-owned property, system operators, under the conditions of this law, during the construction, operation, maintenance, rehabilitation, modernization, including refurbishment, of natural gas networks, enjoy the following rights:
a) for use on the land for the execution of works necessary for the construction, rehabilitation, or modernization of natural gas networks;
b) land use to ensure the normal operation of natural gas networks by carrying out revisions, repairs, and other interventions necessary for the operation and maintenance of natural gas networks;
c) the easement of underground, surface, or aerial passage of the land for the construction of natural gas networks and/or for the execution of works at the location of natural gas net-works during the intervention for the purpose of rehabilitation and modernization or for the development of repair works, overhaul or other operation and maintenance work, to remove the consequences of damage, as well as for access to their network location;
d) to request the restriction or cessation of activities that would endanger the life and health of persons, property, or certain activities;
e) access to the land where the natural gas networks are located.
The rights of use and easement over land and other privately owned property are constituted by virtue of public utility, by the effect of law, without the need to obtain the consent of the owners of the land or real estate, the conclusion of any legal act or other formalities, except the situation where the construction works of the natural gas networks involve obtaining a building permit or an equivalent permissive act, when the prior consent of the owner is required.
7.4. Access and integration
The system operator is obliged to grant access to the natural gas transmission networks to all existing or potential system users in a transparent, objective, and non-discriminatory manner. Access to natural gas transmission networks is granted on the basis of tariffs established in accordance with the methodologies for calculating regulated tariffs for natural gas transmission service and natural gas distribution service, approved by the Agency, published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Moldova and applied to all system users in an objective and non-discriminatory manner.
The transmission system operator shall cooperate with the transmission system operators in neighboring countries in accordance with the agreements concluded with them.
In order to manage the access to the natural gas transmission and distribution networks, the system operator is obliged to keep an electronic register in which it will indicate, for each access point, identified by a specific number, all the data necessary to manage the access to a network. The system operator is obliged to publish on its website the information necessary to ensure efficient access to and use of the natural gas transmission networks.
Also, on November 22, 2019, the Energy Regulatory Agency approved the Code of Natural Gas Networks, which establishes rules that ensure the management of efficient and transparent access to natural gas networks.
7.5. Gas transmission and distribution
Natural gas companies that own or operate natural gas distribution networks operate as operators of the distribution system under the natural gas distribution license issued by the Agency. The license is issued for 25 years and costs MDL 3,250, the equivalent of about EUR 165.
Licensees must be technically equipped to carry out the activity, have natural gas distribution networks, and present documents confirming the technical endowment and that the natural gas networks comply with the technical requirements established by law.
The distribution system operator shall be independent of any undertaking engaged in the production, transmission, storage, or supply of natural gas and may not hold a license for the production, transmission, storage, or supply of natural gas except the combined operator.
The system operator is obliged to grant access to the natural gas distribution networks to all existing or potential system users in a transparent, objective, and non-discriminatory manner.
Access to the natural gas distribution networks is granted on the basis of the tariffs established in accordance with the methodologies for calculating the regulated tariffs for the natural gas distribution service, approved by the Agency, published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Moldova.
The law does not preclude the conclusion of interruptible, short-term contracts and long-term gas supply contracts.
In order to manage access to the gas distribution networks, the system operator is required to keep an electronic register in which it will indicate, for each access point, identified by a specific number, all the data necessary to manage the access to the network, including data on the identity of the person with whom the contract for the provision of gas distribution service is concluded, on the existing supplier, address of the place of consumption, contracted flow, connection point, delimitation point, pressure at the delimitation point, equipment characteristics as well as the statement as to whether that place of consumption is connected or disconnected.
8.1. Trading license
In Moldova, there are no requirements to have a trading license for natural gas trading.
According to the Natural Gas Law, the right to participate in the natural gas market belongs to all producers, suppliers, and consumers operating in the Republic of Moldova.
Transmission system operators, distribution system operators, and storage depot operators are specific participants in the natural gas market and have the right to operate on the natural gas market only under the conditions established by law.
Natural gas sales and purchase transactions, including import or export transactions, interconnection capacity sales-purchase transactions, other related products, involving producers, transmission system operators, distribution system operators, storage depot operators, and suppliers are engaged in the wholesale natural gas market. On the wholesale natural gas market, sale-purchase transactions are carried out on the basis of bilateral contracts, which are formed considering supply and demand, as a result of competitive mechanisms or negotiations. Natural gas market participants are entitled to engage in bilateral transactions, including bilateral gas export or import transactions.
The natural gas sale-purchase transactions in which the final suppliers and consumers participate in order to satisfy the own consumption of the latter are carried out on the natural gas retail market. The sale-purchase transactions are carried out in accordance with the natural gas supply contracts concluded between the suppliers and the final consumers. Suppliers sell natural gas to eligible consumers at negotiated prices, based on bilateral contracts with them.
In the context of public service obligations, the suppliers to whom these obligations have been imposed and the suppliers of last resort supply natural gas to final consumers at regulated prices.
There are not any restrictions on the types of natural gas commodities that can be traded. In the law of natural gas, they are generically called “related products.”
The National Agency for Energy Regulation is the authority responsible for promoting and monitoring competition in the market for natural gas and petroleum products.
The Agency shall ensure that the conditions necessary for effective competition in the market in natural gas and petroleum products are created and developed, including by promoting the principles of fairness, transparency, and non-discrimination in its regulatory acts. The Agency monitors the market in natural gas and petroleum products and checks for the timely detection of abuses. To achieve these objectives, the Agency collaborates with the Competition Council.
Also, if it finds cases of distortion or restriction of competition, the Agency shall notify the Competition Council. The Competition Council is the national competition authority, competent for the implementation of the provisions of the Competition Law no. 183 of July 11, 2012.
Represents anti-competitive agreements, in particular, behaviors aimed at:
a) the direct or indirect establishment of the purchase or sale prices or of any other trading conditions;
b) limiting or controlling the production, marketing, technical development, or investment;
c) division of markets or sources of supply;
d) participation with rigged tenders in tenders or in any other form of tender;
e) restricting or impeding access to the market and the freedom to exercise competition by other undertakings, as well as agreements not to buy or sell to certain undertakings without reasonable justification;
f) the application, in the relations with the commercial partners, of the unequal conditions to equivalent services, thus creating to them a competitive disadvantage; or
g) the conditioning of the conclusion of the contracts for the acceptance by the partners of some additional services which, by their nature or in accordance with the commercial customs, are not related to the object of these contracts.
These accords are prohibited by law and are null and void.
Other anti-competitive behavior may be permitted under certain conditions, for example, if it contributes to improving the production or distribution of products or to promoting technical or economic progress.
9.2. Anti-competitive actions
The Competition Council has the following main attributions:
a) promotes the competitive culture;
b) elaborates the normative acts necessary for the implementation of the legislation in the field of competition, state aid, and publicity;
c) approves the draft legislative and normative acts that may have an anti-competitive impact;
d) notifies the competent bodies regarding the incompatibility of legislative and normative acts with the legislation in the field of competition, state aid, and publicity;
e) investigates anti-competitive practices, unfair competition, and other infringements of competition, state aid, and advertising legislation;
f) finds violations of the legislation in the field of competition, state aid, and publicity, imposes interim measures in order to stop the reported violations, imposes corrective measures, and apply sanctions for committing violations;
g) adopts decisions provided by law for cases of economic concentrations;
h) authorizes, monitors and reports state aid;
i) brings before the court actions regarding the cases related to its competence; and
j) performs other duties in accordance with the legislation in the field of competition, state aid, and advertising, within the limits of its competence.
Economic concentration operations are subject to evaluation and have to be notified to the Competition Council before implementation depending on the size of the turnover.
Economic concentrations which are achieved by the merger of two or more companies must be notified jointly by the merging parties, and those which are achieved by the acquisition of joint control must be notified jointly by the persons or companies acquiring joint control. In other cases, the notification must be made by the person or company taking control of one or more companies or of a part of one or more companies.
The Competition Council investigates and assesses economic concentrations. Within 30 working days from the receipt of the complete notification of an economic concentration operation, the Competition Council:
a) informs the notifying parties, by letter, that the notified economic concentration does not fall within the scope of the law;
b) adopts a decision declaring the notified economic operation to be compatible with the competitive environment; or
c) decides to initiate an investigation if it finds that the notified concentration has serious doubts as to its compatibility with the competitive environment and they cannot be removed.
Within 90 working days of initiating the investigation, the Competition Council:
- issues a decision declaring the economic concentration operation to be incompatible with the competitive environment, if the concentration raises significant obstacles to effective competition in the market or to a substantial part of it, in particular as a result of the creation or consolidation of a dominant position; or
- issues a decision declaring the economic concentration operation compatible with the competitive environment.
The terms provided may be extended at the request of the involved parties. At the same time, if the Competition Council does not make a decision within the indicated terms, the economic concentration operation shall be deemed to be tacitly authorized.
10. STABILITY CLAUSE AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION
10.1. Stability clause
10.2. Compulsory dispute resolution procedure
The Agency shall examine (and mediate) the following disputes at the preliminary stage:
- Disagreements between natural gas companies regarding the provisions of the relevant legislation;
- Disputes, including cross-border disputes, over the refusal of the transmission system operator to grant access to natural gas transmission networks;
- Disagreements between consumers, system users, and natural gas companies that arise in connection with the relevant legislation, as well as between users and the closed distribution system operator, and issue decisions if necessary; and
- Disputes between system operators and owners of land and other property, public or private, regarding the use of third-party ownership.
The examination of the disputes mentioned in the Agency is not a mandatory procedure, the participants in the natural gas market can go directly to the courts in the general procedure.
Disputes between the participants in the natural gas market and the regulatory authority (National Agency for Energy Regulation) are resolved in the general administrative procedure.
The administrative procedure is a relatively new one, regulated by the Administrative Code of the Republic of Moldova no. 116 from July 19, 2018.
Disputes between participants in the petroleum products market shall be examined in the competent courts, in general, or administrative proceedings, as the case may be.
10.3. International treaty protection
Moldova ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, on July 10, 1998, and the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, on May 5, 2011.
In order to be enforced, foreign arbitral awards must be recognized in the Republic of Moldova, with the consent of the enforcement. The competent authorities for such cases are the Courts of Appeal.
An arbitral award is considered foreign if:
a) is pronounced on the territory of a foreign state; or
b) is issued on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, but the law applied to the arbitration procedure belongs to a foreign state.
No special difficulty exists in litigating or enforcing judgments/awards against Moldovan public authorities.