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March 29, 2012

Oil & Gas UK remains extremely concerned by the European Commission’s proposals for EU Regulation of offshore safety. The Commission’s reaction to the Elgin incident and the safe evacuation of all personnel following the gas leak at the installation only serves to reinforce Oil & Gas UK’s concern. Chief executive, Malcolm Webb, said: “Total’s swift and successful evacuation of all 238 people from the Elgin field area is to be applauded and demonstrates the effectiveness of emergency response arrangements and the safety culture of the UK offshore oil and gas industry.

“While Oil & Gas UK will always support proper moves to improve safety standards, the Commission’s proposal to dismantle the UK’s exemplary safety regime is likely to have exactly the opposite effect. Moving overall responsibility for offshore safety to the EU, which has absolutely no experience or competence in the regulation of safety in the offshore oil and gas industry is, in our view, totally lacking in sense or balance. Offshore oil and gas safety will not be best served by the blanket ‘one size fits all’ regulatory approach now being advanced by the Commission. Furthermore, as welcome as offers of help always are, the Commission should be aware that the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) vessels to which they refer would be of no practical use in this incident, which is, in essence, a gas leak.

“Running the risk of damaging North Sea safety through the Commission’s proposed Offshore Safety Regulation is totally unnecessary and as far as we are aware is opposed  by the Governments,  industry bodies and  trade unions in all of Europe’s leading oil and gas producing nations. The improvement of other safety regimes to bring them up to North West European standards would be best handled by a properly worded EU Directive which would also have the advantage of leaving the existing world class safety systems intact. If that route was adopted, the UK oil and gas industry would be happy to work closely with the Commission to help disseminate North Sea experience and good practice.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. Information on the impact of the Commission’s proposed Regulation is available here.
  2. The UK offshore industry operates within a world-class goal setting regulatory framework and remains a global exemplar of good safety practice.
  3. In terms of safety performance, the last 15 years has seen a 66% reduction in all types of injury, a 45% reduction in fatal and major injuries, a 70% reduction in over-three-day injuries and a 70% reduction in major and significant hydrocarbon releases.
  4. The latest information on the Elgin gas leak is available here.