New offshore oil and gas safety rules

The UK Government today announced a number of environmental and safety measures for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry. DECC said the Government would adopt recommendations from an independent […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The UK Government today announced a number of environmental and safety measures for the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry.

DECC said the Government would adopt recommendations from an independent review panel, which was set up following BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The panel, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Maitland, “acknowledged the strength and rigour” of the UK’s oil and gas regime but made some suggestions to further strengthen it.

Mr Maitland said: “I am very pleased to see the substantial progress made on so many of the recommendations and that others continue to be worked on with timeframes for delivery in place. This positive progress demonstrates industry and the regulators’ commitment to continuous improvement, that puts safety and environmental protection at the heart of the industry.”

Some of the changes include “guidelines for improved management systems to give assurance that safety and environmental plans are implemented robustly” and guidance on how petroleum licensees can show they have the financial capability to respond to an incident before consent is given to drill wells.

Energy Minister John Hayes said: “It is vital that our oil and gas activities meet the highest possible standards of safety and environmental protection. I am confident that the Government and industry responses to the independent panel’s recommendations, alongside other ongoing work, will ensure that the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry builds upon its existing high standards.”

A new senior group, which includes DECC, the Health and Safety Executive and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will supervise the “successful implementation of the recommendations” and ensure they are “fit for purpose” in the long term.