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Industry rallies against EU offshore safety rules

26th April 2012

Draft rules put forward by the European Commission to improve the safety of oil and gas activities in the EU following the Deepwater Horizon disaster will be of detriment to the oil and gas industry, they say

The draft regulation takes into account findings from an investigation into the BP oil disaster in 2010

An EU regulation that aims to bring European offshore oil and gas safety under a common policy will cause widespread confusion, according to industry associations and unions.

In a joint statement, Oil and Gas UK, along with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and Unite said that the proposed regulations were badly drafted, risked widespread confusion and did not involve collaboration between the regulator, the industry and its workforce.

While they would support action that improves offshore safety and limits the consequences of a major accident, the proposed regulation would have a "serious detrimental impact on standards of safety and environmental protection on the UK continental shelf," said the statement.

Oil & Gas UK chief executive Malcolm Webb said that by moving overall responsibility for offshore safety to the EU may undermine UK's high standards of offshore safety and environmental protection.

"The four European countries that account for 90 per cent of the region's production already operate under safety regimes that the commission accepts are global exemplars.

"To propose that legislative competence should shift from these countries to the 27 EU member states, the vast majority of whom have no involvement in the industry at all, is totally unjustified."

"We see workforce involvement as a fundamental part of improving all-round safety performance in the offshore industry and this is increasingly being recognised by operators and contractors", added RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy.

The proposed law would extend the European Commission’s environmental liability directive to cover all EU marine waters, including exclusive economic zones within 370 km from coastal areas. This also applies to parts of the continental shelf under member states' jurisdiction.

Operators would have to submit a "major hazard report" to national authorities, which will include a risk assessment and evidence of the installation's ability to cope with an oil leak. They would also be required to prepare an emergency response plan.

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