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UK Government response to Maitland report includes measures to reinforce offshore oil and gas regime

18 December 2012

An independent review panel, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Maitland, acknowledged the ‘strength’ and ‘rigour’ of the UK’s offshore oil and gas safety and environmental protection regime when it reported in December 2011.

The Government has now published its response to Professor Geoffrey Maitland's report on measures to be taken following the Macondo oil disaster
The Government has now published its response to Professor Geoffrey Maitland's report on measures to be taken following the Macondo oil disaster

But the review, set up by Government to learn from the Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, also stressed the importance of continuous improvement in oil and gas operations and made a number of recommendations to further strengthen the UK’s regime.

A full response to the Maitland report was published by the Government on December 18. The majority of the recommendations have been implemented in full, but where an alternative approach has been taken this is fully explained in the response.

Key responses to the recommendations include:
*Industry has developed and published guidance to ensure that critical safety equipment remains in good repair.
*The pan-industry forum set up to share best practice and develop guidance and standards for well management and design will remain in place permanently.
*Guidelines for improved management systems to give assurance that safety and environmental plans are implemented robustly.
*DECC has published guidance on how petroleum licensees on the UKCS can demonstrate that they have the financial capability to respond to an incident, before consent is given to drill exploration & appraisal wells.
*Increased requirement for operators to carry out offshore oil and gas emergency response exercises involving the Secretary of State’s Representative, from every 5 years to every 3 years.

A new senior oversight group, comprising the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will supervise the successful implementation of the recommendations that are still being delivered as well as ensuring that the offshore regime remains fit-for-purpose in the longer term.

John Hayes, Energy Minister, said: “It is vital that our oil and gas activities meet the highest possible standards of safety and environmental protection. I am confident that the Government and industry responses to the independent panel’s recommendations, alongside other ongoing work, will ensure that the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry builds upon its existing high standards.”

Professor Geoffrey Maitland, said: “As Chair of the review I am very pleased to see the substantial progress made on so many of the recommendations and that others continue to be worked on with timeframes for delivery in place. This positive progress demonstrates industry and the regulators’ commitment to continuous improvement, that puts safety and environmental protection at the heart of the industry.”

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