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Energy Act 2008

Section 74: Protection of abandonment funds from creditors

350.This section inserts two new sections into the Petroleum Act 1998 after section 38, to protect funds set aside for the purposes of decommissioning in the event of insolvency.

New section 38A: Protection of funds set aside for the purposes of abandonment programme

351.This section is designed to ensure that, in the event of the insolvency of a person responsible for an abandonment programme or a person with obligations under that programme, the funds set aside for meeting those liabilities remain available for abandonment and are not available to the general body of creditors. The protection in the event of insolvency applies where any funds have been set aside in a secure way (such as a trust or other arrangement which was established on or after 1 December 2007) for meeting obligations under an abandonment programme. This provision applies whether the security is established before or after the programme’s approval, as long as it is clear in the arrangement that it has been established to secure the obligations under the programme.

352.Subsection (4) provides that the term “security” has a wide meaning for this purpose. The list is non-exhaustive.

353.Subsection (6) specifically disapplies any provision of the Insolvency Act 1986, the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 or any other enactment or rule of law the operation of which would prevent or restrict the security being used for the purpose for which it was set up (meeting abandonment liabilities). Subsection (7) extends the meaning of “enactment” to include Acts of the Scottish Parliament.

New section 38B: Directions to provide information about protected assets

354.This section is intended to ensure that creditors and potential future creditors of a person responsible for an abandonment programme are aware of any abandonment funds affected by the new powers to disapply insolvency legislation. The publication of information regarding relevant security arrangements will enable informed decisions to be made by creditors and potential future creditors. Subsections (1) and (2) therefore set out that the Secretary of State may give a direction to a person responsible for an abandonment programme to publish details of the fund or other arrangement at the time and in the manner specified by the Secretary of State (for example in the financial pages of that person’s website). Subsection (3) enables the Secretary of State or a creditor of the person responsible for the abandonment programme to apply for a court order to ensure compliance with a direction.

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