Contractors Unlimited

Oil & Gas UK Warns Against European Commission Weakening UK's Offshore Safety Regime

Oil & Gas UK will attend a meeting in Brussels to reiterate its opposition to the European Commission's proposed safety Regulation which Oil & Gas UK sees as a retrograde step more likely to damage than enhance the safety of UK offshore oil and gas operations.

Chief executive, Malcolm Webb, said:

"Oil & Gas UK is extremely concerned by the European Commission's proposals for EU Regulation of offshore safety. While we will always support proper moves to improve safety standards, this proposal to dismantle the UK's world-class safety regime which is built on decades of experience and replace it with new centralised EU Regulation, is likely to have exactly the opposite effect. We are encouraged by the fact that the UK Government is of the same position and has signalled its intention to oppose the Regulation in the best interests of safety.

"The Commission has put forward an unjustified, poorly-worded and ambiguous draft Regulation which risks causing serious confusion within the industry and a very significant amount of unnecessary and unproductive work for regulators in the UK and elsewhere. This will only serve to stretch the resources of those regulators and divert attention away from their work with the industry on front line safety issues.

"Of the 27 EU member states, only three (the UK, Netherlands and Denmark) have offshore oil and gas industries of real scale and Norway, as a country within the European Economic Area, would also be subject to this Regulation despite having no vote on the matter. To propose that offshore safety in these four countries, which the Commission accepts are global leaders in offshore safety, should be placed under the effective control of the EU, which has absolutely no experience or competence in the regulation of safety in the offshore oil and gas industry is, in our view, totally lacking in balance.

"Transferring legislative competence to a group of countries without any experience in the matter carries a very significant risk for the future of safety in the North Sea; the same is true for countries outside the North Sea, such as Italy, which have smaller production volumes but nonetheless very effective regulatory systems and an exemplary safety record.

"Running the risk of damaging North Sea safety is totally unnecessary as any lagging safety regimes in the EU could be more effectively encouraged to come up to North Sea standards via an EU Directive whilst leaving those world class safety systems intact. If this route was taken, the UK oil and gas industry would be happy to work closely with the Commission to help disseminate good North Sea practices."

A detailed Q&A covering Oil & Gas UK's position on the European Commission's draft proposal for offshore safety regulation is available here.

Oil & Gas UK's official position paper on the issue and independent review of the European Commission's impact assessment is available here.

Published 31/01/2012

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Oil & Gas UK is a representative organisation for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Its 200 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.

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