The European Union (EU) Parliament has approved a new offshore oil and gas operations safety directive, aimed at reducing the occurrence of major accidents related to offshore oil and gas operations.
The directive is expected to increase the protection of the marine environment and costal economies against pollution.
The directive will come into effect 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the EU.
Three years after the completion of transitional periods, the European Commission will submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council assessing the implementation of the directive.
All member states are required to abide by the directive, while landlocked nations and member states with offshore waters but no offshore activities will only need to follow a limited number of its provisions.
Under the new directive, oil and gas companies will have to prove their ability to cover potential liabilities from their operations and submit major hazard reports and emergency response plans before commencing any drilling operations in EU waters.
The parliamentarian also said that all operators will have to ensure they have access to sufficient physical, human and financial resources to minimise and rectify the impact of a major accident.
Licences will be granted only if applicants provide evidence that required provision has already been or will be made, to cover potential liabilities resulting from its offshore oil and gas operations.
Responding to the EU’s announcement, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey, said: "Today’s announcement that European Ministers have passed the directive on offshore oil and gas safety is excellent news."
"Safety and environmental protection are essential to the success of the oil and gas industry and as Europe’s leading oil producer, the UK has been at the cutting edge of lobbying and drafting this new piece of legislation," Davey added.
"This directive will mean oil and gas producing countries across the EU will be held to the highest possible standards with minimum cost and disruption to businesses."
Oil & Gas UK health, safety and employment director, Robert Paterson, commented: "Throughout the progress of this legislation, from Regulation to Directive, Oil & Gas UK has worked hard to help the European Commission achieve its objective of improving and strengthening offshore safety standards across the EU."
"We now feel that this Directive complements the world-leading health, safety and environmental standards already in place in the North Sea that were developed from the lessons the industry learnt following the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988," Paterson added.
Image: European Parliament, Plenar hall. Photo courtesy of CherryX.