Archive for the ‘BIS’ Category


Nov

20

BIS Updates FAQs on Shale Issue


Posted by at 8:54 pm on November 20, 2014
Category: BISOFACRussia Sanctions

Ocean Star Drilling Rig by Ed Schilpul [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/4577660624In our prior post on the Russia sanctions and export of equipment to be used in oil production and exploration in shale, we noted that BIS had not yet weighed in on whether its export ban, like OFAC’s restriction, covered only production and exploration of oil in shale and not production and exploration which went through shale to oil reservoirs below. Well, in fact BIS has also recently updated its FAQs and has reached the same conclusion as OFAC. BIS is to be commended for phrasing its FAQ on this issue in a clear and intelligible way, unlike the cryptic version posted by OFAC.

Q11: When the August 6 rule refers to shale and uses the terms exploration or production in shale, do the restricted end uses apply only to situations, such as fracking, where the hydrocarbon is located in shale formations, or do they also apply to projects involving penetrating a layer of shale to reach a reservoir located below the shale formation? What about projects that involve unconventional methods of extracting oil from shale (e.g., from shale reservoirs or oil shale processing)?

A11: The license requirements of §746.5 of the EAR apply to the specified items when you know that the item will be used directly or indirectly in exploration for, or production of, oil or gas in Russian deepwater (greater than 500 feet) or Arctic offshore locations or shale formations in Russia, or are unable to determine whether the item will be used in such projects. Thus, the license requirement applies to exploration for, or production of, oil or gas from a shale formation. The license requirement does not apply to exploration or production through shale to locate or extract crude oil or gas in reservoirs.

You can’t get any clearer than that.

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Nov

18

Alex, I’ll Take “Shale Formations” for $100


Posted by at 6:21 pm on November 18, 2014
Category: BISOFACRussia Sanctions

In Situ Shale Oil Extraction via http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/images/other/oil_shale/shell_insitu.gif [Public Domain]OFAC today released a new FAQ on the Ukraine Sanctions and shale formations. The purpose of FAQs, at least outside the Treasury Department, is to present clear and concise answers to resolve questions that many people might have. OFAC seems to have the idea instead that the FAQs are a place for cryptic and oracular pronouncements to obscure questions.

So let’s play OFAC Jeopardy. I give you the answer and if you can tell me the question you win a free subscription to Export Law Blog:

The prohibitions in Directive 4 under Executive Order 13662 apply to deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects with the potential to produce oil in the Russian Federation, or in maritime area claimed by the Russian Federation and extending from its territory. The term “shale projects” applies to projects that have the potential to produce oil from resources located in shale formations. Therefore, as long as the projects in question are neither deepwater nor Arctic offshore projects, the prohibitions in Directive 4 do not apply to exploration or production through shale to locate or extract crude oil (or gas) in reservoirs.

Now when you first read this, it seems that OFAC is saying something radical: that the Directive 4, which prohibits exports of goods and services in support of the listed projects doesn’t apply to shale projects unless they are in the Arctic or in deepwater, meaning that the question was “Do the Ukraine sanctions apply to shale projects not located in deepwater or in the Arctic offshore?” Of course, this would be a silly reading and result even by federal regulatory standards. I’m not even sure that there is shale in deepwater or the arctic offshore regions.

But then I figured out the real question. “Do the sanctions apply to oil projects where the oil is underneath a shale formation? Is that a “shale project” under Directive 4?” And the answer is no, shale projects are when you get the oil in shale not under shale. Oh, I see. . .

Now the burning question is this: the recently added section 746.5 of the EAR forbids exports of items with certain ECCNs when the exporter knows that the items “will be used directly or indirectly in exploration for, or production of, oil or gas in Russian deepwater (greater than 500 feet) or Arctic offshore locations or shale formations in Russia.” Does this rule cover exploration and production of oil under shale formations? Who knows?  UPDATE: BIS now says that its rule covers exploration and production in, rather than through, shale

But this gives us time for one more round of Jeopardy. Alex, I’ll take Regulatory Conundrums for $500. Answer: Because Directive 4 applies to exports by U.S. persons even if the items are not subject to the EAR and 746.5 applies to re-exports by foreign persons of items subject to the EAR.

[Hit the buzzer below to answer!]

Question: If Directive 4 prohibits all exports in support of the forbidden oil projects, why do we need 746.5 which prohibits exports of only certain items in support of the forbidden oil projects.

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Nov

12

Venezuela Joins the Axis of Evil


Posted by at 11:44 pm on November 12, 2014
Category: BISVenezuela

Venezuela Capitol Building by Márcio Cabral de Moura via https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdemoura/2316759071/ [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]It is probably safe to say that no one was particularly shocked earlier this week when the Bureau of Industry and Security added Venezuela to the list of countries (currently Russia and China) to which certain dual use items may not be exported if these items are for military end use. The specific items subject to this restriction are those listed in Supplement 2 to Part 744 of the Export Administration Regulations. These items include, among other things, certain composite materials, lasers, and aircraft navigational equipment.

The rule was adopted in final form and went into immediate effect on November 7.

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Nov

11

EU Moves Ahead on Intrusion Software; BIS Holds Back


Posted by at 7:57 pm on November 11, 2014
Category: BISCCLEUSurreptitious Listening Devices

By Sébastien Bertrand (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tiseb/4592786358/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AEuropean_Commission_flags.jpgOn October 22, the European Commission amended its List of Dual Use Items to include controls on “intrusion software” which the Wassenaar Plenary adopted in December 2013 and which we reported here. The new list, and the export controls on intrusion software, will go into effect after 60 days from October 22 unless the E.U. Council or Parliament interpose objections.

That, of course, raises the question about where the United States is on adopting these controls. Initially spokespersons for the Bureau of Industry and Security indicated that the rules on intrusion detection hardware and software would be out in September. Well, September and October have both come and gone and there is no sign of new rules on this issue.

Of course, at least part of what Wassenaar defined as intrusion software is already controlled in the United States under ECCN 5D980, which was adopted in December 2007 and which controls surreptitious listening software. But 5D980 does not control, as the new controls on intrusion detection software would, software performing “the modification of the standard execution path of a program or process in order to allow the execution of externally provided instructions.” The scope of the definition of intrusion software is undeniably broad and susceptible of covering some unobjectionable types of software, so it seems clear the BIS must be struggling with how to handle the breadth of the definition and limited unintended consequences.

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Nov

5

Ya Get What Ya Pay For


Posted by at 11:18 pm on November 5, 2014
Category: BIS

Happy 50th by Cochise College via Cochise College official Instagram account http://instagram.com/p/tTViN5IHPh/ [Fair Use]Let’s see. I have an export question that’s troubling me. So what should I do? I know. Let’s write the local newspaper and ask them! What could possibly go wrong?

Dear M & M: I am interested in exporting a product overseas. This product does not require an export license. I am not sure who the end user will be as they are selling to a third party. Is there something I need to do to make sure I am in compliance with regulations?

— Randy

The “answer” comes from Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation. (Please, no Mork and Mindy jokes.) Mark and Mignonne do not even stop for a moment to wonder how Randy, who appears to know almost nothing about exporting, is so certain his item does not require an export license and respond:

Dear Randy: If your item falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce and is not listed on the Commercial Control Lists, and it does not require an export license it is designated as EAR99.

Generally the majority of commercial products are designated EAR99 and generally will not require a special license to be exported or imported into this country and later re-exported.

Leaving aside the “Commercial Control Lists” gaffe, the first sentence makes almost no sense to me, and one can imagine what sense it makes to Randy. How is Randy supposed to figure out whether his item “falls under the jurisdiction of the” Commerce Department? And if I have an ECCN that doesn’t require a license to a particular jurisdiction does that make my item EAR99? But forget about all that: most products, they say, are EAR99, so Mark and Mignonne are certain that Randy’s item must be as well. Good thing they didn’t print Randy’s last name.

However, if you plan to export an EAR99 item to an embargoed or sanctioned country, to a party of concern, or in support of a prohibited end-use, you may be required to obtain a license. The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) have what they call advisory opinions relating to what they call red flags when exporting to another country. The following link has general topics one should check out if you suspect something is wrong http://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/advisory-opinions.

If Mark and Mignonne were teetering off balance in the first two paragraphs, they have gone completely off the rails here. Who knew that the advisory opinions talked about red flags or would help Randy realize that not knowing the end customer might get him in hot water without further investigation and/or contractual undertakings by the intermediate consignee?

Not knowing the end user especially if your product can be refitted to serve another purpose or knowingly suspect a third party reselling your items to a country that the U.S. has sanctioned can get you into trouble.

Of course, not knowing the end user can be a problem whether or not your product can be refitted. And if you know that your intermediate consignee is selling to a sanctioned country, knowing your end user is not going to help at all.

Finally, Mark and Mignonne  say to Randy what they should have said from the outset, indeed, what should have been the only thing they said to Randy

The Export Counselling Division of the Office of Exporter Services can be reached at any of the numbers below …

Next week Mark and Mignonne attempt to explain to a confused reader why string theory is a possible explanation for the commutation rules of quantum mechanics. Stay tuned.

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