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EU Offshore Safety Directive indicates a more integrated approach

31 October 2013

Operators of offshore oil and gas installations in European waters will be expected to take a more proactive, preventative approach to the control of major accident hazards following the introduction of the EU Offshore Safety Directive on 12 June 2013. 

The Directive also requires appropriate response mechanisms to be in place should an incident occur.  It introduces a framework designed both to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences, participants at a recent ERM Global Risk meeting in Madrid were told.

Speaking to major operators in the region, ERM Partner Rob Steer introduced the main requirements of a Directive which will affect offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities in Europe.

“It’s about developing a Safety Case which meets the requirements of the Directive,” he explained.  “This will almost certainly mean adopting a more integrated approach to preventative safety and emergency response measures – for example in the case of an oil spill.”

The Directive, he said, was a response to a number of catastrophic events in the offshore industry between 1979 and 2010 and in particular the EU response to the Macondo incident.  It recognized that there was a need to meet changing conditions for both exploration and production and that there was a need to introduce a more rigorous regime in European waters for reducing risk. With the onus on preventative arrangements, as well as emergency response, oil and gas companies would also be fully liable for environmental damages caused to protected marine species and natural habitats.

While all existing installations will be expected to comply with the Directive by July 2018, new projects will have to start considering the requirements of the Directive from the outset.

Also speaking at the meeting, ERM Technical Director Martyn Ramsden highlighted the value of a “living” Safety Case.  This would be a document which, not only meets the regulatory requirement for a Safety Case, but which also adds value as a tool for workforce engagement throughout the project lifecycle.  Such a Safety Case, together with suitable engagement, can have a real impact on workforce awareness of major accident hazard risk.

For a copy of the presentations by Rob Steer and Martyn Ramsden contact sue.miller@erm.com.

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