New measures announced to reinforce offshore oil and gas regime
An independent review panel, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Maitland, was set up by the Government to learn from the Gulf of Mexico tragedy. The panel, acknowledged the ‘strength’ and ‘rigour’ of the UK’s offshore oil and gas safety and environmental protection regime when it reported in December 2011. It also stressed the importance of continuous improvement in oil and gas operations. It made a number of recommendations to further strengthen the UK’s regime.
A full response to the Maitland report has been published by the Government. The majority of the recommendations have been implemented in full, but where an alternative approach has been taken this is fully explained in the response.
Key responses to the recommendations include:
- 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;
- DECC has published guidance on how petroleum licensees on the UKCS can demonstrate that they have the financial capability to respond to an incident, before consent is given to drill exploration & 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 5 years to every 3 years.
A new senior oversight group, comprising the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will supervise the successful implementation of the recommendations that are still being delivered as well as ensuring that the offshore regime remains fit-for-purpose in the longer term.
Further infromation can be found on the DECC website.