The UK Health & Safety Executive published a notification on July 19 confirming the launch of a new regulator for the country’s offshore sector. The Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR) is the Competent Authority (CA) responsible for implementing the requirements of the EU Directive on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations.
On the 28th June 2013, the EU published the Directive with the aim to reduce, as far as possible, the occurrence of major accidents related to offshore oil and gas operations, and to limit their consequences. The UK needed to implement the requirements of the Directive, including the setting up of a Competent Authority, by 19 July 2015.
The role of the CA is to oversee industry compliance with the Directive and to undertake related functions such as accepting, assessing, approving and/or inspecting relevant Safety Cases, Oil Pollution Emergency Plans, Well Notifications and other notifications. Reporting of incidents are included as are intervention planning and investigation work.
DECC and HSE will work in partnership as OSDR to deliver the CA functions as required under the Directive.
Currently DECC’s Offshore Oil and Gas Environment and Decommissioning Team (OGED) is responsible for implementing offshore environmental legislation. HSE’s Energy Division (ED) is responsible for implementing health and safety legislation for offshore oil and gas operations.
DECC and HSE already work closely together under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for liaison between the two organisations and their regimes. Examples include a coordinated sign-off procedure for all new exploration and appraisal wells, and joint environmental and safety inspections where this is appropriate. The operational MoU is overseen by a high-level cross-Departmental group.
The existing arrangements need to be expanded to comply with the requirements of the Directive. An enhanced MoU will be established, and will have similarities to the existing model for the regulation of onshore major hazard installations under COMAH.
A Senior Oversight Board will govern OSDR, providing organisation and direction, and a forum to agree, implement and monitor arrangements and pursue shared strategic regulatory goals.
Whilst DECC and HSE will still have separate functions outside the scope of the Directive, the functions of the CA will be delivered by the relevant sections of DECC’s OGED and HSE’s ED, under a set of common operational arrangements. A joint DECC/HSE Offshore Safety Directive Implementation Team has been established to manage the transition, develop frameworks, and management arrangements to implement the requirements of the Directive. From a stakeholder perspective, there will be a move toward more integration between HSE and DECC in delivering the CA functions.
The two regulators currently have existing separate strategies on how to regulate major accident hazards offshore in their respective areas. The approaches outlined in these strategies will continue under the new CA.
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