Offshore EU Directive

Published:  09 July, 2013

21 things you need to know about the upcoming EU Directive on Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations.

Introduced June 10th the new Directive aims to ensure the highest standards in safety across Europe. It will also ensure that industry reacts effectively and promptly should an accident occur, to help minimise the possible damage to the environment and the livelihoods of coastal communities.

It sets clear rules that cover the whole lifecycle of all exploration and production activities from design to the final removal of an oil or gas installation.


1. If a contractor did it you are still responsible.

Member States shall ensure that operators are not relieved of their duties under this Directive by the fact that actions or omissions leading or contributing to major accidents were carried out by contractors. Chapter II, Article 3.

2. If you can’t afford to pay for the environmental damage don’t expect to get a licence.

In particular, when assessing the technical and financial capability of the applicant for a licence, due account shall be taken of the following:

(a) the risk, the hazards and any other relevant information relating to the licensed area concerned, including, where appropriate, the cost of degradation of the marine environment referred to in point (c) of Article 8(1) of Directive 2008/56/EC;

(b) the particular stage of offshore oil and gas operations;

(c) the applicant’s financial capabilities, including any financial security, to cover liabilities potentially deriving from the offshore oil and gas operations in question including liability for potential economic damages where such liability is provided for by national law; Chapter II, Article 4.

3. If you can’t prove you can respond don’t expect a licence.

Member States shall assess the adequacy of provisions referred to in the first subparagraph in order to establish whether the applicant has sufficient financial resources for the immediate launch and uninterrupted continuation of all measures necessary for effective emergency response and subsequent remediation. Chapter II, Article 4.

4. You need to consult the public.

The drilling of an exploration well from a non-production installation shall not be commenced unless the relevant authorities of the Member State have previously ensured that early and effective public participation on the possible effects of planned offshore oil and gas operations on the environment pursuant to other Union legal acts, in particular Directive 2001/42/EC or 2011/92/EU as appropriate, has been undertaken. Chapter II, Article 5.

5. A major hazards report must be accepted before operations can start.

Member States shall ensure that operations relating to production and non-production installations are not commenced or continued until the report on major hazards has been accepted by the competent authority in accordance with this Directive. Chapter II, Article 6.

6. You can’t park your vehicle in the safety zone.

However, that prohibition shall not apply to a vessel entering or remaining in the safety zone:

(a) in connection with the laying, inspection, testing, repair, maintenance, alteration, renewal or removal of any submarine cable or pipeline in or near that safety zone;

(b) to provide services for or to transport persons or goods to or from any installation in that safety zone;

(c) to inspect any installation or connected infrastructure in that safety zone under the authority of the Member State;

(d) in connection with saving or attempting to save life or property;

(e) owing to stress of weather;

(f) when in distress; or

(g) if there is consent from the operator, owner or the Member State in which the safety zone is located. Chapter II, Article 6.

7. Member States much appoint a competent authority.

Member States shall appoint a competent authority responsible for the following regulatory functions:

(a) assessing and accepting reports on major hazards, assessing design notifications, and assessing notifications of well operations or combined operations, and other similar documents that are submitted to it;

(b) overseeing compliance by operators and owners with this Directive, including inspections, investigations and enforcement actions;

(c) advising other authorities or bodies, including the licensing authority;

(d) making annual plans pursuant to Article 21;

(e) producing reports;

(f) cooperating with the competent authorities or contact points pursuant to Chapter II, Article 8.

8. The internal emergency response plan must include analysis of oil spill response effectiveness.

Member States shall ensure that operators or owners, as appropriate, prepare internal emergency response plans to be submitted pursuant to point (g) of Article 11(1). The plans shall be prepared in accordance with Article 28 taking into account the major accident risk assessment undertaken during preparation of the most recent report on major hazards. The plan shall include an analysis of the oil spill response effectiveness. Chapter III, Article 14.

9. The competent authority can say ‘no’ if the response plan is not good enough.

Member States shall ensure that the competent authority: prohibits the operation or commencement of operations on any installation or any connected infrastructure where the measures proposed in the report on major hazards for the prevention or limiting the consequences of major accidents or notifications of well operations or combined operations submitted pursuant to points (h) or (i) of Article 11(1) respectively are considered insufficient to fulfil the requirements set out in this Directive;Chapter III, Article 18.

10. A corporate major accident prevention policy is also necessary.

Member States shall require operators and owners to prepare a document setting out their corporate major accident prevention policy which is to be submitted pursuant to point (a) of Article 11(1), and to ensure that it is implemented throughout their offshore oil and gas operations, including by setting up appropriate monitoring arrangements to assure effectiveness of the policy. The document shall contain the information specified in Annex I, Part 8. Chapter IV, Article 19.

11. A safety and environmental management system needs to be integrated within the overall management system.

Member States shall ensure that operators and owners prepare a document setting out their safety and environmental management system which is to be submitted pursuant to point (b) of Article 11(1). That document shall include a description of the:

(a) organisational arrangements for control of major hazards;

(b) arrangements for preparing and submitting reports on major hazards, and other documents as appropriate, pursuant to this Directive; and

(c) schemes for independent verification established pursuant to Article 17. Chapter IV, Article 19.

12. You must have an inventory of all your emergency response equipment.

Member States shall ensure that operators and owners prepare and maintain a complete inventory of emergency response equipment pertinent to their offshore oil and gas operation. Chapter IV, Article 19.

13. If it’s dangerous, stop doing it.

Where an activity carried out by an operator or an owner poses an immediate danger to human health or significantly increases the risk of a major accident, Member States shall ensure that the operator or the owner takes suitable measures which may include, if deemed necessary, suspending the relevant activity until the danger or risk is adequately controlled. Member States shall ensure that where such measures are taken, the operator or the owner notifies the competent authority accordingly without delay and no later than 24 hours after taking those measures. Chapter IV, Article 19.

14. Ensure your emergency equipment is ready for action at any time.

Member States shall ensure that the operator and the owner maintain equipment and expertise relevant to the internal emergency response plan in order for that equipment and expertise to be available at all times and to be made available as necessary to the authorities responsible for the execution of the external emergency response plan of the Member State where the internal emergency response plan applies. Chapter VII, Article 28.

15. Keep your emergency response plan fresh and up to date

The internal emergency response plan shall be prepared in accordance with Annex I, Part 10, and updated as a consequence of any material change to the report on major hazards or notifications submitted pursuant to Article 11 Any such updates shall be submitted to the competent authority pursuant to point (g) of Article 11(1) and notified to the relevant authority or authorities responsible for preparing the external emergency response plans for the area concerned.

The internal emergency response plan shall be integrated with other measures relating to protection and rescue of personnel from the stricken installation so as to secure a good prospect of personal safety and survival. Chapter VII, Article 28.

16. And the internal emergency response plans need to tally with an external emergency response plan prepared by each Member State.

External emergency response plans shall be prepared by the Member State in cooperation with relevant operators and owners and, as appropriate, licensees and the competent authority, and shall take into account the most up to date version of the internal emergency response plans of the existing or planned installations or connected infrastructure in the area covered by the external emergency response plan. Chapter VII, Article 29.

17. Please try to make your response equipment and contracted services compatible and interoperable.

Member States shall take suitable measures to achieve a high level of compatibility and interoperability of response equipment and expertise between all Member States in a geographical region, and further afield where appropriate. Member States shall encourage industry to develop response equipment and contracted services that are compatible and interoperable throughout the geographical region. Chapter VII, Article 29.

18. Practice practice practice.

Member States shall ensure that operators and owners regularly test their preparedness to respond effectively to major accidents in close cooperation with the relevant authorities of the Member States. Chapter VII, Article 29.

19. If the worst happens, tell the relevant Member State(s) – and don’t be shy about the detail.

Member States shall ensure that the operator or, if appropriate, the owner notifies without delay the relevant authorities of a major accident or of a situation where there is an immediate risk of a major accident. That notification shall describe the circumstances, including, where possible, the origin, the potential impacts on the environment and the potential major consequences. Chapter VII, Article 30

20. The stick - it’s going to be expensive

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Member States shall notify those provisions to the Commission by 19 July 2015 and shall notify it without delay of any subsequent amendment affecting them. Chapter IX, Article 34.

21. Each country in the European Unions has to bring all this into law by 19 July 2015

Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations, and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 19 July 2015. Chapter IX, Article 41.

You can read the full Directive here.

Other reading

A final report was published in 2012 covering technical peer review meetings that took place in 2012 on the assessment of risks in the offshore oil and gas industry.

The meetings were held to discuss the differences in findings between two reports. Firstly, the European Commission’s Impact Assessment regarding policy alternatives, their effects on risk reduction of a major offshore incident and the costs associated with the implementation of the alternatives. The Impact Assessment also includes a study performed by the Commission, on the frequency and costs of oil blowouts (and other major accidents) in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Secondly, the industry associations Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) and OLF’ studies on the frequency and costs of oil blowouts. These studies were performed by GL Noble Denton (GLND) and DNV respectively.

You can read the report on the peer review meetings here.

  • Operation Florian

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