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Topic 39: PROPOSED EU REGUATION ON OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS SAFETY

Babawale Onagbola's picture

At
the last Safety Engineering and Risk Management lecture delivered by the Lawyer
from Maclay Murray and Spence,he touched on an interesting issue. The October
27, 2011 proposal of the EU to introduce binding offshore safety regulations
for the 27 member countries including Norway as a reaction to the Deepwater
Horizon accident the previous year. While I understand that the present regime
of offshore regulations in the UK is the bench mark worldwide, I cannot seem to
agree more with the EU’s proposal to develop uniform regulations guiding the
safety of offshore operations in this part of the world, especially with the EU
publicly regarding the current UK legislative regime as a model. Apparently,
the UK government does not share the same vision.

What
implications might the EU’s proposed centralized legislation have on actual
safety statistics and operations in offshore oil and gas industry in Europe???
What do you guys think??

Comments

OKECHUKWU CHUKELU's picture

I find that the EU regulation is totally unnecessary and is very likely
to setback the safety regime in the UK. Without a doubt, the UK operates the
best safety regime in the world. The UK’s safety regime is built on experience
that the EU does not have, so, moving all the responsibility for offshore
safety to the EU would destabilize the high standards existing in the UK. You
are looking at a situation where about 300 UK safety cases would have to be
re-drafted, re-submitted to the HSE and re-validated. This will only lead to a
backlog and would heap a huge burden on both operators and national regulators,
which will divert their attentions. This is a major concern in the industry and
even if they drafted in safety specialists and consultants to assist, however
from experience with the first UK safety cases, outsourcing the preparation of
cases resulted in the lack of ownership within the company and their management
systems.

Kobina Gyan Budu's picture

While agreeing with Okechukwu on some of the points raised, I still think the European Commission’s (EC)
proposal for European Union (EU)Regulations of offshore safety is a good move aimed at centralising the
health, safety and environmental protection legislation across the 27 member states as well as Norway.
In their proposal, the EC clearly acknowledged the North Sea countries as amongst the very best in the
world. It was therefore expected that the proposal would leverage on the goal setting-based UKCS regulations
as well as best practices from other European jurisdictions in drafting the EU regulations. However, it is
clear that this was not the case. If the EC had worked closely with the member countries (stakeholders),
the proposal would have been flawless.
 
A good safety regulation/legislation/directive should have clear and concise wording to enhance its
operability. It appears the EC regulation is poorly drafted and lacks interpretative guidance. This makes
it subject to different interpretations amongst member states, presenting some innate risks. The review
by two expert organisations Oil and Gas UKcommissioned also revealed serious errors in EC’s proposal; the
50% blowout risk factor reduction, assumption of high flow (50+ day events) in impact assessment and the
use of €30,000 million upper bound for the costs of a longer duration blowout event are all causes for concern.

Since the EC regulations seeks to harmonise the oil and gas safety regulations of all member states, it will
be prudent to rework the proposal with them especially the countries which respective legislations (UK, Denmark,
Netherlands and Norway) are regarded among the best in the world.
 
http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm

 

Kelvin Osaro's picture

I agree to what Kobina is saying but I also want to add that: The draft of the new proposed European offshore oil and gas safety regulation by the European Commission (EC) on 27 October 2011 have set clear rules that covers the whole lifecycle of all production and exploration activities from the initial design to the final removal of the oil and gas installation [1]. However, the UK Oil and gas operators are strongly opposing the new draft EU regulation in its current format because the UK offshore safety regulation regime is considered world class. So implementing this proposal would have exactly the opposite effect, undermining the existing UK offshore safety regulation regime [2].  It was also observed that, if the EU proposal is poorly drafted it could lead to confusion in compliance through uncertainty of interpretation and could even stop or hinder operations until reasonable certainty exists if the interpretative guidance is not properly monitored [2].  

References  

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/energy/oil/offshore/standards_en.htm

[2] http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm

Oluwatosin A. Oyebade's picture

In my opinion I would say the EU has very good motive of wanting to bring the rest of Europe up to the standard already present in the North Sea but the approach to achieve their aim is faulty. Even though the UK operates the best safety regime in the world as okechukwu rightly pointed out, there is nothing wrong with the EC trying to improve the safety standards or centralising the control of offshore HSE protection in Europe. 100% safety is unattainable as we all know so revising and striving to improve the quality of exisiting regulations is an excellent idea but that is of course without destabilising the existing standards in the UK regulation which is almost impossible. The EC proposals to shred and move away power from individual countries over to Europe where there is no specialist, expertise or competence would eventually jeopardise offshore safety in the long run rather than improve it. This approach of destroying the robust and flexible system that has been accepted by everyone including the EC for over 20 years would not only result in a backlog of work but also cause division of attention on the part of regulators which would be of concern to the industry. I think the EC legislative proposals should be revised for its good intentions to work.

Ref: http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/proposedEURegulation.cfm

Oluwatosin Oyebade

Neil Fraser James Carr's picture

 

 

Looking
at the UK oil and gas website and the opinions expressed there I can’t help but
feel that this may be a little bit of an excessive statement as it would
involve many of the operators to reassess and renew the current Safety cases
and regulations that they are currently tied into and perhaps even find some
improvements to make the systems work better. My opinion on the matter is that
the current set up for the north sea is very good and evolved but these things
can always be improved, oil and gas uk have as a negative that it will be a lot
of work for the operators, this should realistically be the last thing that
anyone is worried about.

From
a Euro sceptical point of view though It seems that the EC have used this as a
way of installing and “Cherry Picking” a very good framework and regime
developed at great cost in the UK into their own and that realistically the
adaption of it to the North sea would only be a way of verifying that what they
have put together is good enough for their own purposes.

References:

http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm  (Accessed 14/11/2012)

Hanifah N. Lubega's picture

 

Formed under the belief that there was a high likelihood of major offshore hazards in the European waters, the Regulation was aiming at ensuring that the whole of Europe was at the same footing in terms of safety and environmental protection. I agree with you Babawale that it sounds like a good idea but looking at the different countries/governments in the 27countries, there are challenges of interpretation of the law/regulation which may intern affect the safety standards and conformance in the long run and negligance of countries that feel like that key safety factors have been left out (Oil and Gas UK). Questions of the EU expertise in offshore issues and burden of having to re-write and submit the safety cases also continue to be raised as negaive implications of the regulaion[1]. 

I think the move to change from ‘regulation’ to a ‘directive’ was good idea because it then gives the governments in the different countries freedom to choose methods of achieving the set goals/standards without necessarily binding them to the prescriptive safety and environmental protection standards in their entirety. I think that is what the UK initially had a problem with because after the vote on 9th Oct 2012, they seemed to have concurred with the results of having it as a directive rather than a regulation.  1.       http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm2.       http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/121234/EU_Opts_for_Offshore_Safety_Directive3.       http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/NaturalGas/8801423

Tony Morgan's picture

totally agree and the correct decisions are taking shape.

the use of directive is the best compromise to ensure that the standard of safety across the eu is raised.

it is just as effective and has similar powers of regulation for those found to not be conforming or raising their game. ref - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directive_(European_Union)

This is the essentialpart that communities other than the UK need to improve vastly. The uk still has improvements to be made but at Karin suggests there is no point going backward and descending into a myriad of paperwork just to align systems...a wider perspective view is to make changes that only add value.

regards
tony morgan

Mark Haley's picture

I couldn't agree more Tony. The last thing we need is for the EU to enforce rafts of prescriptive legislation when we have been trying to get away from exactly that.
As the benchmark for the world we have shown that by using less prescriptive legislation and putting the onus on the operator to build a safety case based on goals, safety can be improved. I agree that there will always be improvements to make, but by using goals and encouraging best practice safety improvements will be continuous.
Another issue we have seen from other EU regulations is that one regulation does not always fit all! We have seen examples many of this in agriculture and fishing and the issues it has caused in the UK. This is why I feel that it is essential that the EU uses a directive to allow each nation to implement the laws into their existing framework of regulations and does not prescribe laws to all 27 countries.
Mark Haley

Xosé Manuel Carreira's picture

While most European offshore O&G production is still in the UK and Norway, it has been spreading across Europe and new exploration and production licences have been awarded including vast Mediterranean areas.

First of all, as citizen-engineers we should broaden the scope of the discussions, think globally without chauvinism. For instance, if we look outside the North Sea, much of new O&G exploration takes place in the Black Sea or in the Mediterraneum without harmonized and clear legal frameworks.

Although I understand that many British colleagues may view the recent legislation as unnecessary, unwelcomed and as the "old demon" of European centralization, the sad fact is that national legislations are too different across the EU and even across the North Sea. As usual, the idea of harmonizing basic standards and best practices can enhance competitivity and make it easy for companies that want to work and invest in Europe.

Last but not least, the proposal seems to acknowledge and adapt most of the successful UK and Norway standards to set a common basis. It should be remembered that an EU directive is just a minimum common framework that must be supplemented as usual by the laws of the state members: the UK can add the necessary extra requirements and the means of implementation to the proposed EU framework.

Soseleye F. Ideriah's picture

It is important that we get the facts right here. The reason the European Commission has proposed a new law is to ensure that “European offshore oil and gas production will respect the world's highest safety, health and environmental standards everywhere in the EU” [1]. It is expected that there would be some oppositions to the new law, as there is always a reluctance to change, but the ultimate goal should be improving overall safety.

Interested parties in the regulation were consulted to ascertain their views on the unified law. National authorities in the North Sea region felt that changes at Union level should not put in question their current goal setting regulatory approaches. The EU proposal indeed intends to promote the goal setting regulatory approach [2]. The EU law identifies areas for improvement without risking a reduction in standards where member states already have strong regulatory regimes.

Several policy options have been identified depending on the degree of change implemented [4]. Four policy options have been developed in addition to the do-nothing baseline option (option 0). 

The baseline case (option 0) carries no additional cost but does not affect the problem drivers consistently across the member states. Some independent improvements by member states are expected, however their effort may be counterbalanced by increase in risk levels due to growing complexity of offshore operations.

Option 1 (“North Sea Basic”): This option intends to introduce the major hazards report to EU law. This idea builds on the “safety and health document” required in current European directive (Directive 92/91EC) [3] by reflecting recognized good practice in several North Sea jurisdictions. This option is estimated to decrease baseline risk by about 3%.

Option 1+ (“North Sea +”): This option introduces the major hazards report, as well as various soft law measures (again, inspired by widely recognised good practices available in some North Sea jurisdictions). Reduction in baseline risk with this option is expected to be around 12%.

Option 2 (“EU best practice”): This option is based on widely recognized global best practices and aims to provide further improvements to regulations in the North Sea region. This option promises a 50% reduction in baseline risk and is also the preferred policy option.

Option 3 (“EU Agency”): This option aims at introducing an EU agency to institutionalise and consolidate the reforms achieved by option 2. 

Nothing is perfect and the much respected UK law is still susceptible to improvements. Operations are becoming increasingly complex, and a robust system that takes all issues into consideration is required. This is where the EU law comes into play. The EU law doesn’t throw the UK law out of the window. On the contrary, the EU law builds on the UK law to improve overall safety.

References and further reading

1 http://ec.europa.eu/energy/oil/offshore/standards_en.htm

2 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0688:FIN:...

3 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31992L0091:e...

4 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=SEC:2011:1294:FIN:...

Kelvin Osaro's picture

I truly agree with what Soseleye is saying but I also want to add that: The implementation of the proposed EU regulation for offshore oil and gas safety will definitely be of advantage in preventing the implication of the accident that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. If this should happen in EU waters, serious effects could take place in Member States involved and also neighbouring states. But with this EU proposal it will help improve the safety regime in some member states (UK and Norway) to a higher safety standard and thereby making the law mandatory to other countries across Europe [1].       The proposed EU regulation creates clear rules in order to respond and effectively prevent major accidents from occurring. These rules are given below: Licensing: The licensing authority should only approve license to operators that have the technical and financial capability to ensure the safety of environmental protection and offshore oil and gas exploration and production in the EU waters [1, 2]. Liability: Any hazardous environmental damage caused to the protected marine species and natural habitats, the oil and gas companies are fully liable for it. However, the damages to waters, the geographical zone will be extended to cover all EU marine waters including the exclusive economic zone (about 370 km from the coast) and the continental shelf where the coastal Member State exercises jurisdiction. The present EU legal framework for environmental liabilities is limited to territorial waters (about 22 km offshore) in the aspect of damages to waters [1, 2].Inspections: Independent national competent authorities (HSE, DECC) should ensure the safety of installation by providing safety, environmental protection, and emergency of preparedness of rigs and platforms and operations conducted on them [1]. By doing this, companies will have to implement these safety requirement standards to avoid penalties or enforcement actions by member states which could ultimately stop any drilling or production operations. EU Offshore Authorities Group: Each Member States offshore inspectors will work together to ensure that the effective sharing of best practices contributes to the development and improvement of safety standards [1].    Transparency: The EU proposal, hopes to provide comparable information to the public showing the standard of performance of the industry and the activities of the national competent authorities on their website [1]. Obligatory ex-ante emergency planning: This requires operators to provide a Major Hazard Report (MHR) before any exploration and production is carried out. This will include the risk assessment and emergency response plans that will be submitted for approval from the national authorities [1, 2]. Independent verifiers: This ensures that an independent third party verifies the technical solutions that are critical for safety on the installation prior to and periodically after the installation is in operation [1].   International: The European commission hopes to work with international partners in order to improve the implementation of the highest standard of safety across the world [1].  Emergency Response: The EU proposal, hopes to ensure that companies prepare emergency response plans based on their rig or platform risk assessments and thereby having them available for operation when necessary. More so, the member state ensures that this plan is accounted for when considering national emergency plans and is periodically tested by industry and national authorities to ensure safety [1, 2].  As can be illustrated above, these rules will help to improve the safety and effectively prevent major accidents from occurring in offshore oil and gas only by implementing the proposed EU regulations.  References [1] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-740_en.htm?locale=en [2] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=SEC:2011:1294:FIN:EN:PDF

Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

Indeed the proposed European Commission law for setting high safety standards across the member states may seem to destabilize the current UK safety legislation, but according to the Commission’s website their aim is to make the high safety standards that some EU countries already have, obligatory to the other countries that may have poor or no offshore safety legislation.


To my mind, this is a procedure that will help those countries with no or some offshore experience in the past get benefited from the heavy experienced, like UK and Norway. For example, in the Eastern Mediterranean there is an effort from Cyprus and Greece to explore and produce hydrocarbons and their offshore legislation would be improved to a satisfactory level according to the new EU unified legislation. The main disadvantage for the UK or Norway could be the increased bureaucracy will cause the need of re-writing the existing safety cases.

 
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-740_en.htm?locale=en

Andrew Strachan's picture

Given it's importance to the UK's economy and energy supply I would be opposed to the passing of the UK's powers to Brussels to regulate the health and safety of the oil and gas industry.

There is no doubt that the UK's regulation of Health and Safety needs to continually improve and learn and adapt through major incidents and developing technology. I do not see why this needs to be directed through the EU. This may improve the safety in other oil producing member states but if it has a detrimental economic impact and safety implications for operators in the UK then I would say it is difficult to justify.

The overarching recommendation by the Maitland report[1] with respect to the draft EU Regulations was that the findings and recommendations for post-Macondo improvements be implemented to the existing UK System and not through new EU regulation. "Particular care should be taken to ensure that any future changes at an EU level neither dilute the fundamental strengths of the UK system or undermine the authority of the relevant regulatory bodies within it nor, through the mechanism and process of their introduction, frustrate or delay the potential improvements highlighted elsewhere in this report. "

As mentioned in the opening post, the EU acknowledges that the Safety Systems in operation in the four producing North Sea countries are world class, however introduction of a new set of regulations from the EU introduces a whole new layer of slow moving bureaucracy. It is claimed by Oil and Gas UK[2] that "the regulation's poor drafting will create confusion concerning compliance through uncertainty of interpretation, and together with the lack of interpretative guidance, could hinder or even stop operations until reasonable certainty exists."

If this is implemented as a Directive then this will be a good framework for countries that do not have suitable existing Regulation in place to adopt.

References
[1]Maitland Report - Oil and Gas in the UK - an independent review of the regulatory regime http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/meeting-energy-demand/oil-gas/3875...
[2]European Commission Proposed Regulation on Offshore - Safety and Related Issues - Oil & Gas UK Position Paper - http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm#background

c.ejimuda's picture

I am in agreement with Neil Carr’s points but some of the challenges I discovered on this issue of 27 EU countries coming together in creating a safety regulation are as follows:

Difference in Governance: Difference countries have different ways they interpret safety or safe operations. Individual country's government has a major role on how the regulation will be interpreted and it all depends on their understanding of the regulations.

Individual Involvement: Some countries within the EU are still way behind in the best practices and this slows other the member country down in term of the quality of their safety regulation.

Transfer of Safety Leadership from countries to the EU: The UK and other North Sea neighbours have developed the safety culture of the North Sea region for over 20 years through detailed training, operational experience and expertise. For instance, if the Health Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK loses its right and power to regulate health and safety in the UK because of the EU leadership, it is going to affect the attention of safety within the UK.

I know that coming together and creating an EU safety regulation will bring the standards in other countries up to speed but I will suggest that the EU should carry out a proper assessment within member countries so that they can ensure that everyone is on or close to the same page before implementing the regulation.

 

Reference:

Oil and Gas UK. (2012) Proposed EU Regulation of Offshore Safety 2012 [online]. Available at: http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm [accessed 18 November 2012] 

 

Chukwumaijem M Ejimuda

MSC Safety and Reliability Engineering.

Hanifah N. Lubega's picture

I have been asking myself why the UK is not welcoming the idea of a common EU regulation, yet they seem to be okay if it was imposed as a directive?! The regulation mainly used UK's strong Health and Safety regulations/guidelines and is being proposed for all the 27 countries (prescriptive goals), to me, this means that at some point the level of performance towards safety would be the similar throughout member countries (which I imagine is a good thing since consequences of certain hazards may have impacts on neighbouring facilities and environment). I don’t want to be in the middle of this debate before the Regulation finally and officially becomes a directive but I think issues of superiority and competition in safety performance have a role to play here. Am sorry I don’t want to be held accountable for this statement, so I will not elaborate it further.

Andrew Strachan's picture

In response to Hanifah' post (sorry I meant to "reply"). As I have learnt on this course so far, the UK Offshore Health and Safety regulations were developed over a number of years and in no small part as a direct consequence of a number of tragic accidents - I am not sure there is a case for claiming superiority. The moment the UK is overconfident in it's Health and Safety regulations is the moment it will stop evolving and improving. As mentioned in one of James Munro's lectures the HSE openly engages with other countries to share best practice and I would presume this includes EU member states.

My understanding of EU law is that a Regulation sets out the specific requirements of what is to be followed and once given, is applicable to all member states and they MUST comply with the specifics of that regulation.

A Directive differs in that the implementation is less specific and each member state may choose how they go about meeting the requirements of the Directive provided the objectives of that Directive are achieved. "The use of a directive is to ensure that each member state still produces the result desired by the EU by allowing each member state to get there in its own way"[1]. This leaves opportunity to interpret and adapt slightly from the particular Directive.


So it would make better sense for countries with a mature and robust offshore health and safety regulation in place, (on which the draft EU regulations are based), to use their existing regulations to meet a Directive rather than having to modify existing regulations to suit specifics given in an EU Regulation. This will avoid having to change safety procedures in order to comply with a regulation, when the objective of that regulation is generally being met anyway.


[1] http://www.findlaw.co.uk/law/government/european_law/basics/500358.html

Kevin K. Waweru's picture

In Europe the Macondo Deep Water Horizon incident jolted the European Commission (EC) into action, culminating in a new legislative proposal that would affect all EU member states as well as Norway. The EC did clarify that its over-arching objectives for legislating are to reduce the risks of major incidents from occurring in Europe and also to limit the consequences in case a major incident were to occur [1].

Most companies have oil and gas operations that cross international borders. Therefore it must be recognised that in all likelihood, the consequences of a major event could surpass international borders.

To my understanding, what the proposed EU Legislation aims to achieve is a harmonised approach to major safety incidents affecting oil and gas installations offshore European territorial waters. Admittedly, each member state has its own safety approaches developed and refined over time but the lingering wide differences are what the EC seeks to reduce.

Andrew Strachan has highlighted the difference between EU Regulations and EU Directives from a legal perspective, but essentially they are both EU Legislation. As the Maitland Report 2011 [2,3] concluded, the high standards and global standing of the UK offshore safety systems should not suffer as a result of the introduction of EU Legislation.

In my own personal view, the EU Legislation, be it a Regulation or a Directive, will not only harmonise the safety systems in the various member states but will be and should be of benefit to those states just beginning to establish their offshore oil and gas operations. After all, the basis of the proposed EU Legislation is a combination of “best practice” safety systems derived from individual member states.

1.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52011PC0688:EN:NOT

2.http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/meeting-energy-demand/oil-gas/3875-offshore-oil-gas-uk-ind-rev.pdf

3.http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm

Kevin K. Waweru

MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

Kelvin Osaro's picture

I truly support what Kevin is saying but I also want to add that, one of the lessons learnt from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig incident on the Gulf of Mexico is that safety is not the major reason for the implementation of the proposed EU regulation but on how they strictly followed. It was understood from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig incident that several failures lead to the explosion, one being that the blowout preventer (BOP) on the well failed to activate when attempted to stop the flow of hydrocarbon [1]. However, with the implementation of the proposed EU regulation, it will help to ensure that operators carry out all hazard assessment and control and hence, prepared to mitigate the effects should these hazards yet occur [1]. Another effect was that it took several months to design and drill a relief well to stop the oil leakage into the sea water. But with the EU proposal, it hopes to ensure that oil and gas companies submit a contingency plan which outlines the tools or equipment available to contain and stop the flow of hydrocarbon from a well [1]. 

Nevertheless, another lesson learnt from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig incident is the point that the companies that were involved in the project did not assess and review the critical changes in design of the Macondo well. But the new EU proposal ensures that operators have methods in place to consider these changes whether in the case of installation or in the design of a well and being able to minimize risk at the same time [1]. 

References  

[1] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-740_en.htm?locale=en  

Craig Donaldson's picture

I think Kevin has highlighted the key point which is that this regulation (or directive if that is the form it eventually takes) will be of most benefit to the new and upcoming oil and gas industries in other EU countries which do not have the wealth of experience the UK has. By applying this experience hopefully these new industries will not have the same tragic accidents that have happened in the North Sea. These new countries will be able to take their own view on it (if it is implemented as a directive) which could allow for benefits and improvements to be fed back to other member states. The directive will be diverse in method, through innovative and creative thinking, but not in outcome. Andrew mentioned that the UKs HSE policy may begin to stagnate if we are not always seeking to improve it, but with the feedback from other countries experiences we could continue to grow and expand our HSE policies.

I do agree that as a regulation it would waste substantial amounts of resource and time to purposefully implement policies which are almost the same as those already in place. Therefore, as a directive the UK would not need to alter its own health and safety regulation significantly and could just update to ensure every requirement is met.

Ike Precious C.'s picture

I believe that if this ends up as a Directive, the UK government will welcome it without issues.
Nevertheless, I believe the harmonizing of the HSE Regulations, Directives etc will give Europe strength in the Oil and Gas industry and encourage competition amongst companies across the region. I think this is one of the areas UK and Norway wouldn't want to hear.
On the other hand, we all know that one can always make progress by climbing on the shoulders of those that have gone ahead of them. This as Craig and Andrew highlighted will give New oil and gas producing and refining countries a pedestal to play in the big league of oil and gas players.
This will also encourage Idea-sharing across the EC, which will reduce accident rates to a minimum because certain factors from other countries are looked into and considered.
I believe the harmonization of these HSE laws, regulations etc, will boost the value placed on human life. Some of these new countries in a bid to play in the big league of oil and gas players, will have to re-evaluate whatever considerations they may have taken into account in attaching a calue to human life.

Thank you.

Agba A. Imbuo's picture

 Looking at the evaluations made by Karin, I will not totally agree that having countries like Hungary, Slovakia and Austria will be a hazard to the present safety regime. We cannot totally say that even if the UK safety standards are considered as a model around the world, there is still room for improvements as nothing can be said to be 100% efficient. Contributions and inputs from smaller countries will only help to modify and broaden the scope. I also think that increase in revision and paper work and rewriting safety cases will only help reduce flaws in the system. There is no doubt, the EC see the UK HSE regulation as a model ,but the fact remain that they want to use the proposed unified regulation  as an opportunity of producing a framework that builds upon the UK model this is not a bad idea and should be encouraged and implemented as a regulation not a directive.

  AMBROSE AGBA SUBSEA ENGINEERING (51227054)

RossWinter's picture

The topic is a very contentious issue with most people, and the discussions going on all have merit. I do agree that having an EU wide regulation for safety is nothing but a good thing, especially for some countries who currently have very relaxed health and safety controls (compared to UK). However, the argument that the UK would be worse off if the rules were implemented, are hard to understand, as I believe, that the new rules would be based on current UK rules, which has been stated above, are some off the most rigorous in the world. The new rules will undoubtedly mean that many companies will have to invest in the safety equipment and procedures but this is a very worthwhile investment as human lives will be saved because of them.

Ross Winter Msc Renewable Energy

Ernest Appiah's picture

The proposed EU
regulations on offshore oil and gas will replace the safety standards by the UK’s
oil and gas industry. The UK’s standard is based on decades of experience and
it has been tried and tested. The EU intends to put in place centralised
regulations across all member countries so as to have a uniform offshore health
and safety measures and also environmental protection measures. This will
dismantle the UK’s world acknowledge safety procedure.

 

The EU does not think
that the regulations in UK is not up to standards but rather wants to do away
with the current situation where each member state regulates its own offshore
industry which I believe is in the right direction. In fact, most of the
proposed regulations are based on that of the UK’s system. But it has been
argued by the industry’s expect that if care is not taken the proposed
regulations will have a negative impact on offshore safety instead of improving
it.

 

Reference

 

Proposed EU Regulation of Offshore Safety - Oil & Gas UK-

www.oilandgasuk.co.uk Knowledge Centre  Health and Safety

Hani Shobaki's picture

On October 2010, the European Commission considered for the first time a comprehensive EU wide legislation on oil platforms aimed at ensuring the highest safety standards in the world. EC aimed to cover criteria including the granting of drilling permits, controls of the rigs and safety control mechanics.


One year later European Commission proposed new law on considered subject. The proposed regulation aims to set the worlds highest safety, health and environmental standards everywhere in the EU. The legislations sets clear rules on the lifecycle of all exploration and production activities from design to the final removal of an oil or gas installations.


Industry representatives in the UK have argued that the proposed EU regulation might have the exact opposite effect that EU aims for. Regulation is unnecessary as the North Sea has already fit-for-purpose safety regimes. As argued by the Oil and Gas UK effective legislation should have a powerful, well-resourced and competent regulator, and regulations should set the right accountabilities and drive the right behaviors. Additionally effective regulation should have a strong industry support. Oil and Gas UK criticizes the regulation for being a bureaucratic exercise with a huge burden on both operators and national regulators and causing real risk of a knock on effect on safety.


The goal of European Community could be achieved properly as a Directive rather as a Regulation. From North Sea perspective this would minimize any new and unnecessary disruptions caused to the operators as the standards are already high. Furthermore it would encourage other Member States to follow the regime set in place in the UK.


European Commission. Offshore oil & gas platforms standards. 2012.
http://ec.europa.eu/energy/oil/offshore/standards_en.htm (accessed 18 Nov 2012)
The United Kingdom Offshore Oil and Gas Industry Association. Proposed EU Regulation of Offshore Safety
http://www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/ProposedEURegulation.cfm (accessed 18 Nov 2012)

Mohamed H. Metwally's picture

This proposal would be fine so long as it is not specific in some issues. Setting binding legislation for a group of countries should be with generic approach so that it could be used as "constitution" for each country or company to put their own legislation.

The offshore industry itself needs realistic approach because for EPC companies every MINUTE offshore countes.

This way we can enhance the "power of law" rather than the "law of power".

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