Overdependence of the Moldovan energy sector on imports makes energy sources diversification a constant national priority. Considering this, the authorities decided to concede for exploration purposes 40% of the country’s territory. However, the concession mechanism established by authorities has a number of shortcomings and risks that have to be addressed.
During the works concession process, which ended with the signing of a contract with the US company Frontera Resources International (Corporation) LLC on 2 January 2017, a range of irregularities were found and described in the Position Note, published March 16, 2017, by Expert-Grup.
In view of the described concerns, especially those related to the environmental protection, as well of the statements of the Minister Valeriu Munteanu regarding the possibility to review the signed contract, the Government and the Ministry of Environment are hereby called to urgently take the following actions:
1. Suspend the contract of 2 January 2017, signed between the Ministry of Environment and Frontera Resources International, and along with that:
a. Organize transparent and inclusive public consultations, with broad participation of the civil society representatives in the fields of environment, energy, anti-corruption policies, as well as of the local public authorities, especially from the targeted localities.
b. Create a joint Committee to investigate how the initial concession tender was held. The Committee has to comprise representatives of the National Anticorruption Center, Competition Council, as well as civil society representatives specialized in public procurement, anti-corruption policies, environment, energy, etc. It is also important to involve representatives of EU Delegation as the observers.
2. Terminate the contract signed between the Ministry of Environment and Frontera Resources International if public consultations and investigations confirm deviations from the procedure and good practices.
3. Launch a new public concession tender in conditions of maximum transparency and competition, provided that public consultations confirm the relevance and harmlessness of the exploration works for the population and environment.
4. Create a mixed Group to monitor the concession tender, consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Environment (Government), local authorities of the targeted districts (on the Ungheni-Basarabeasca line), including from the Autonomous Territorial Unit Gagauzia (Gagauz-Yeri) and civil society representatives (environment, energy, anti-corruption policies).
5. Establish a mechanism for monitoring, evaluation, and communication on the implementation of contractual provisions, in the event of signing a new contract, obligatorily ensured by the Ministry of Environment and the concessionaire, with an active involvement of the civil society.
6. Approve a framework document for any type of exploration and exploitation activities on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, that would clearly stipulate both obligations and sanctions to be applied for violation of environmental legislation. The framework document would also have to provide for prohibition to use exploitation methods harmful for the environment, such as hydraulic fracturing for an eventual extraction of shale gas, prohibition to pump toxic fluids in the extraction wells, as well as other means that could affect the ground waters and surface waters. This framework document must be reflected in the future concession contracts in the field.