Stricter European Legislation Imposed for Offshore Drilling
The European Parliament and the Member States have reached an agreement on a new European Directive that ensures the safety of offshore oil and gas drilling. Ivo Belet MEP is responsible on behalf of the European Parliament for the new legislation that imposes financial requirements and strict authorisation procedures on operators.
Ivo Belet said: "Europe has learned its lessons from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and wants to reduce the risks of drilling at sea to a minimum. Especially now that several Member States with little experience are exploring new drilling operations at sea, there is an urgent need for a strong legislative framework. The previous guideline is nearly twenty years old and focuses insufficiently on safety."
The main innovations of this Directive are:
Liability and financial guarantees: Oil and gas companies are fully liable for any form of environmental damage. They must prove that they have sufficient financial capacity to cover the consequences of a possible incident.
Mandatory risk assessment and emergency response plans: Prior to starting up any drilling activity, operators must complete a risk analysis and prepare an emergency response plan, which must be tested regularly. Coordination with neighbouring countries is required if cross-border effects can be expected. The materials needed to carry out the emergency response plan need to be available at all times.
Stricter licensing procedure: Drilling at sea can only start after approval by an independent national authority.
Europe sets the tone: Companies operating in EU waters must now demonstrate that their risk prevention policy also applies to operations outside the EU.
Involvement of the population: All Member States are now legally obliged to closely involve the local population even before exploratory drilling is carried out.
Greater role for EMSA: The expertise of the European Maritime Agency should be used if a gas or oil leak occurs. EMSA must inspect the emergency response plans.
Arctic: Since the EU has no waters in the Arctic, it makes no sense to call for a moratorium on drilling in this area. Therefore, it was agreed that within the Arctic Council the highest safety standards for oil drilling must be promoted. As regards remote areas and areas where access is difficult, the feasibility emergency response plans must be tested in all weather conditions.