Following the introduction of the EU Offshore Safety Directive, the UK will be taking decisive action to protect this vital industry and its employees – maintaining numerous safety regimes to comply with the new changes.
According to reports, existing safety and environmental regimes will be maintained wherever possible as the UK aims to make the new directive both easy to understand and easy to implement.
Fit for purpose
Speaking about the plans, oil and gas law expert William Park was keen to comment on the relief many businesses will be feeling now the UK’s intentions have been put in black and white.
He explained that bodies including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) had announced their intention to maintain current legislation wherever possible after changes were first proposed in 2001.
He said that these bodies held the view that existing regimes were “largely fit for purpose” and had confirmed this idea in the consultation document recently published on the EU Directive.
Park said, “The HSE, DECC, industry and unions have maintained that the legislative framework for offshore health and safety was largely fit for purpose.
“That is reflected in the consultation document which makes it clear that the HSE’s goal is to maintain as much of the existing regime as possible and only where it is considered absolutely necessary are they proposing that existing legislation be amended or new legislation introduced”.
The directive outlines minimum conditions which must be met to ensure safe exploration and exploitation of vital offshore energy resources as well as suggesting improved response procedures to be used in the event of an accident.
Impacts of accidents are also hoped to be reduced under the proposals which will ensure firms provide sufficient protection for hazards before they’re able to obtain a license for an offshore installation grant.
This will naturally be of huge benefit to the UK, who is a major player in the offshore oil and gas industry. In fact, almost half of the 1,000 (approx.) installations in the EU, nearly half are found in waters controlled or owned by the UK.
By maintaining existing safety legislation and adopting any necessary changes which are needed, the UK will ensure this industry is able to continue to perform at its peak.
Although the majority of the Directive is likely to be transposed into new Offshore Installation (Safety Case) regulations, it is expected that additional existing HSE and DECC legislation (e.g. on well integrity and emergency response) will also have to be updated to fully implement the Directive.
The timetable for the remainder of the transposition process is:
Any date changes or affects to the industry are to be made public in due course by the HSE.
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