Following the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the European Commission (EC) expressed its initial views on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations in its communication ‘Facing the challenge of the safety of offshore oil and gas activities’ (published on 13 October 2010). The EC communication concluded that the existing divergent and fragmented regulatory framework applying to the safety of offshore oil and gas operations in Europe, along with current industry safety practices did not provide adequate assurance that risks from offshore accidents were minimised throughout the Union.

The past three decades have seen several major offshore disasters in the oil and gas sector. The EU Directive 2013/30/EU, which was introduced into national regulations in EU member states, aims to minimise the risk of such accidents and limit their consequences, whilst tackling the problem of fragmented regulation throughout the EU. The Directive is a goal setting regime largely based on the UK Safety Case model. For some, this regime will be unfamiliar but even UK operators will be required to modify existing arrangements and provide additional documentation.

On the 28th June 2013, the EC published the Offshore Directive. The objective of this Directive is to reduce as far as possible the occurrence of major accidents related to offshore oil and gas operations and to limit their consequences. The Directive contains requirements relating to licensing, environmental protection, emergency response and liability.  On 19 July 2015 the Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive) (Safety Case, etc.) Regulations 2015 (SCR) came into force, implementing the requirements of EU Directive 2013/30/EU. Please see below schedule:

 

With respect to the safety of offshore oil and gas operations, the EU faces a threefold problem:

  1. The risk of a major offshore oil or gas accident occurring in EU waters is significant.
  2. The existing regulatory framework is fragmented and industry operating arrangements do not provide for the most effective response to accidents.
  3. Under existing liability regimes, the responsible party (e.g. company leaking oil) may not always be clearly identifiable and/or may not be able, or liable, to pay all the costs to remedy the damage it has caused.

In order to address these issues, the EU Commission has introduced EU Directive 2013/30/EU. Nation states are required to transpose the Directive into national legislation by 19 July 2015. Thereafter there will be a transition period during which operators of new and existing assets will be expected to fully comply with national legislation. The Directive requires nation states to ensure all existing production installations comply by 19 July 2018.

For more information, please click on the links below: