Oil & Gas UK, unions hit EU safety proposal

Oil & Gas UK and two UK trade unions have issued a joint statement opposing the European Union proposal to centralize regulation of offshore oil and gas safety (OGJ Online, Nov. 4, 2011).

The producers’ group teamed with the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT) and Unite the Union to say the proposed EU regulation “would, in practice, undermine the current UK regulatory regime and the high standards of offshore safety and environmental protection that this drives.”

EU officials, calling the risk of a major offshore accident in European waters unacceptably high, proposed a series of regulatory steps, including aggressive coordination of EU members’ regulatory systems, last October.

Oil & Gas UK has opposed the proposal since then, arguing in favor of existing UK regulation of offshore safety. Its joint statement with RMK and Unite repeats some of those arguments.

“If implemented, the proposed new regulation would necessitate the rewriting and/or revocation of significant parts of the existing world-class UK sector-specific legislation,” the statement says.

The statement also criticizes the proposal for not involving the industry and workforce sufficiently and for creating “widespread compliance confusion and project delay.” It says the text is “poorly drafted in a number of important areas and contains numerous examples of errors and ambiguity which will lead to unintended consequences.”

It also faults the proposal as “a clear step to regulate the offshore oil and gas energy industry via safety.” It says the proposal “will shift regulatory control away from member states to the oversight of the EU, with the potential for further prescriptive intervention at a later date.”

In contrast to UK regulatory agencies, the statement says, “the European Commission does not have any technical competence in this area.”

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