New EU legislation aimed at harmonising offshore oil and gas safety rules across  Europe must not risk undermining the UK’s existing industry-leading safety  regulations and endangering investor confidence in the North Sea.
That is  the message from Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson as he prepares to  undertake a report on behalf of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public  Health and Food Safety Committee, assessing proposed regulations aiming at  ensuring EU-wide safety during offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and  production activities.
The legislative proposal will begin its journey  through the European Parliament in July and Stevenson aims to ensure that the  highest standards of environmental protection are adhered to across the EU  without compromising the UK’s current capacities to prevent any major  environmental disaster occurring within UK territorial waters.
Speaking  from Brussels today, Mr Stevenson commented:
‘With the exploration and  production of oil and gas increasingly taking place in deep offshore waters, in  more complex geographical and geological environments, there is a need to  minimise the risks of a major accident occurring within the EU.
‘The EU  currently has no sector-specific offshore oil and gas legislation and there are  considerable disparities and fragmentation amongst other Member States’ laws and  practices applying to offshore activities. This new legislation seeks to raise  standards of control of major hazard risk throughout the European Union, and  that is no bad thing in itself.’
Struan continued:
‘However, the  legislation as it currently stands risks impacting the UK’s world class oil and  gas safety regime detrimentally as the new rules, if passed, will force Member  States to repeal key parts of their own domestic law and replace it with a  ‘one-size-fits-all’ piece of EU legislation.
‘Moreover, the unrealistic  timescale and interpretative guidance proposed by the Commission would force the  UK oil and gas industry to devote untold resources in service of the  legislation’s implementation, causing serious project delays and consequences  for the economy, investment, jobs and security of energy supply.
Struan  concluded:
‘The recent gas leak at the Elgin Platform, 150 miles off the  coast of Aberdeen, demonstrated that the UK already has the gold standard when  it comes to the safety of offshore oil and gas production. All 238 staff at the  platform were evacuated quickly and the leak was thankfully stopped with minimal  environmental impact.
‘Initiatives to minimise the threat of a major  offshore accident in EU waters are to be welcomed, but the Commission must  realise that stringent proposals for EU-level action could weaken the UK’s  offshore oil and gas regime and impact its ability safely to direct the  exploitation of its own energy resources.’
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