UK oil body slams EU’s new "blanket" safety regulations

The UK’s trade body for oil and gas has slammed new “blanket regulations” planned by the EU that could risk “undermining safety” in the North Sea. The European Commission (EC) […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The UK’s trade body for oil and gas has slammed new “blanket regulations” planned by the EU that could risk “undermining safety” in the North Sea.

The European Commission (EC) today proposed “stringent” EU-wide plans for new safety laws on offshore drilling in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April last year.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “This safety update is good news for the environment, but it’s also good news for business which will be able to deploy its operations in a predictable framework.”

But Oil & Gas UK believes that new laws could have the opposite effect and plans to take its complaint to DECC, the UK regulator HSE, and the European Commission itself.

Malcolm Webb, its chief executive, said: “Relinquishing regulatory control to the EU, which has no established competence in this matter and where only three out of the 27 member states have an offshore oil and gas industry of real scale, risks undermining safety and environmental performance here in the UK.”

The trade body argued it would be better to leave each country to regulate their own operations.

Mr Webb added: “Blanket regulation of the type we understand is now being proposed will not, in our opinion, even achieve that end. Instead it will serve to confuse and complicate.”

A spokesperson for Energy from the EC told ELN: “Our regulation will ensure the highest safety standards. We have built on good practices in the Member States as the UK. For example, we propose an individual risk assessment. The same is used in the UK for many years. We have chosen a ‘goal setting approach’ as the UK is using, rather then opting for very detailed regulation.”

DECC said they too wanted sovereign control over North Sea safety. A spokesman said: “The UK has a robust, proven, national regime with decades of experience in regulating the offshore industry. We look for continuous improvement within our regime and would be very concerned if it was weakened or in any way undermined.”