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HSE publishes Offshore Directive implementation details

13 January 2014

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has given details of the implementation timetable of the EU’s  Offshore Directive for oil and gas operations in UK waters. Both the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and HSE’s implementation teams are currently working to complete their analysis of the Offshore Directive before beginning to draft new regulations in conjunction with legal advisers. 

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.

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. DECC and HSE will jointly lead the transposition of the Directive as it contains requirements relating to licensing, environmental protection, emergency response and liability, in addition to safety. The Directive has to be implemented by 19th July 2015.

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.

Both DECC and HSE’s implementation teams are currently working to complete their analysis of the Offshore Directive before beginning to draft new regulations in conjunction with legal advisers.

The timetable for the remainder of the transposition process is:

November 2013 – March 2014: 
Informal consultation with industry, Trade Unions and other stakeholders (eg the environmental NGOs) on the offshore competent authority options, emerging issues and draft regulations.
April 2014: 
DECC Ministerial submissions and HSE Board Paper  on the Offshore Directive consultation package
June – Sept 2014 (approximately): 
Formal consultation on the competent authority and legislative proposals to implement the Directive
October - November 2014:   
Final drafts of new regulations produced, based on consultation responses and final legal package prepared, including updated guidance
December 2014: 
DECC Ministerial submissions and HSE Board Paper on the Offshore Directive legal package
January 2015: 
HSE Minister asked to clear the Offshore Directive legal package
February 2015: 
Regulations to implement the Offshore Directive laid before Parliament
March 2015: 
Guidance for regulators and operators on new regulations published
19 July 2015: 
New offshore Regulations come into force

This timetable will be updated as firmer dates become available.

HSE web pages will be updated as transposition of the Directive develops and will include details of the main changes and how these will affect UK offshore operators and workers, as well as providing consultation updates.

Queries about the Offshore Directive should be emailed to offshoredirective@hse.gsi.gov.uk


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