LONDON – Britain’s government has unveiled new safety and environmental protection measures for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry.
An independent review panel, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Maitland of Imperial College London, acknowledged the strength of the UK’s existing offshore regime when it reported in December 2011, following the Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico.
However, the panel also stressed the importance of continuous improvement in oil and gas operations, and issued various recommendations.
The government has responded by implementing most of the recommendations, but in certain cases has adopted an alternative approach.
Its main responses are:
• Industry has developed and published guidance to ensure that critical safety equipment remains in good repair
• The pan-industry forum set up to share best practice and develop guidance and standards for well management and design will remain in place permanently
• Guidelines for improved management systems to give assurance that safety and environmental plans are implemented robustly
• The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published guidance on how petroleum licensees on the UK continental shelf can demonstrate that they have the financial capability to respond to an incident, before consent is given to drill exploration and appraisal wells
• Increased requirement for operators to carry out offshore oil and gas emergency response exercises involving the Secretary of State’s Representative, from every five years to every three years.
A new senior oversight group, comprising DECC, the Health and Safety Executive, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will supervise implementation of recommendations that are still being delivered as well as ensuring that the offshore regime remains appropriate over the longer term.
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Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, Malcolm Webb, said: “The Maitland Review and ensuing report have proved to be a valuable exercise, not only in underlining the overall robustness of the UK offshore regulatory regime but also in highlighting where further improvements were possible. The majority of these have now been implemented.
“Oil & Gas UK was pleased to be a part of this constructive process and is committed to assisting the industry on its mission of continuous improvement in safety and environmental protection.
“The review and report further underline why the EU Commission’s proposal to introduce a ‘one size fits all’ regulation of offshore safety was misguided. We are pleased to note that the movement in Europe is now clearly away from a regulation of that nature.”