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Industry Creates Advisory Group to Review UK Oil Spill Prevention and Response

Oil & Gas UK, the leading representative body for the UK's offshore oil and gas industry, announces today (25 May 2010) that it is establishing an advisory group to provide a focal point for the sector's review of its oil spill prevention and response practices in the UK, in advance of the conclusion of investigations into the Gulf of Mexico incident.

The Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) will be chaired by Mark McAllister, chief executive of Fairfield Energy Ltd, who commented:

"The regulatory regime in the UK continental shelf (UKCS) requires companies to put in place robust checks to minimise the risk of oil spills; we have not had a blowout in the last 20 years of operations and the oil spills we do have tend to be on a very small scale. However, we must always ensure we put the safety of our employees first and minimise any adverse environmental impacts of our operations, so in light of the recent Gulf of Mexico incident, it is only right that we take a fresh look at our practices in the UK for oil spill prevention and response. The review conducted under OSPRAG will be comprehensive and will help ensure that the arrangements in the UK continue to be fit for purpose."

OSPRAG is formed of senior representatives from all sides of the industry, the relevant regulatory authorities and trade unions. Oil & Gas UK is delighted that alongside its members, representatives from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the trade unions, RMT and Unite, have agreed to participate.

The Group will provide direction and support to five specialist review groups whose remit will be to focus on:
  • technical issues including first response for protection of personnel
  • oil spill response capability and remediation
  • national emergency response measures
  • indemnity and insurance requirements
  • pan-North Sea regulations and response mechanisms
The first meeting of OSPRAG is proposed for 2 June 2010 and the Group will continue until its work is completed, at which time it will be disbanded. The Group will maintain appropriate links with the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP), the American Petroleum Institute (API), the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) and other relevant international professional bodies.

In order to minimise the risk of oil or gas releases in the UKCS, the HSE has in place a goal-setting regime which requires companies to implement robust checks. This type of regulation enables a responsive approach because it allows companies to utilise the latest technology for minimising risks as and when it becomes available rather than waiting for regulations to be updated. The regulations also require a second level of assurance in that the design, construction and maintenance of wells must be independently verified by an independent and competent person (ICP).

Oil & Gas UK is the leading representative organisation for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Its 103 members are companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in UK waters and those who form any part of the industry's supply chain.

Published 25/05/2010

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