New EU Directive on the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas comes into force

The new EU Directive on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations came into force on 18 July 2013, and aims to ensure that best safety practices are implemented across all active offshore regions in Europe.

The European Commissioner for energy, Guenther Oettinger, commented: “We call upon oil and gas companies and drilling contractors operating in EU waters to respond to the challenge to their leadership in global safety and environmental protection. We call on them to exert their influence to see a rise in standards both rapidly and permanently, and to ensure the transparency of that achievement. Beginning without delay, we hope to see full and rigorous disclosure of safety data by all companies in the international industry associations’ reports.”

Under the Directive, oil and gas operators and rig owners are required to prepare safety cases for preventing major accidents and their environmental consequences, which are acceptable to the regulatory agency in each country. European companies involved in major accidents overseas will be required to report the circumstances to their country of domicile. Any operator or rig owner working in European waters will have their corporate global safety policy scrutinised by the regulator.

Member States will now have 2 years in which to adopt the required provisions of the Directive into national laws. For existing installations the transposition period will be 5 years. Member States with ‘offshore waters that do not have offshore oil and gas operations under their jurisdiction’ and ‘landlocked countries with companies registered in their territories’ will be required to transpose only limited parts of the Directive, again within 2 years.