Thank you for joining us at this press conference today. A number of you will have been present back in November 2007 when Ian Whewell and I jointly presented the original KP3 report.
At the time we issued some challenging messages to offshore operators about the need for them to show leadership in addressing these issues, and we have been greatly encouraged by the spirit in which those tough messages were received by industry and the way in which industry has responded.
There has been a good deal of activity taking place on a number of fronts in the meantime:
It is to present the results of that review that we are gathered here today. HSE’s Offshore Division has undertaken the review, with input and cooperation from key industry stakeholders, including trades unions and industry trade associations.
Overall, I believe the findings can be summed up as “so far, so good” - progress has been made but sustained effort is still required - this was never going to be a quick fix or a ‘job and finish’ task.
The UK Offshore Oil and Gas Industry has indeed made good progress and is now showing leadership and ownership in addressing the issues of most concern in the original KP3 report, but that progress and leadership must be sustained. The challenges remain, they are ongoing and must not be underestimated.
The challenging economic climate is a new factor but it cannot be allowed to slow progress or be an excuse for cutting back on health and safety. Remember how we got to where we are – it was the underinvestment in and neglect of asset integrity in previous years of economic uncertainty which created the situation which was highlighted by KP3.
HSE recognises the significant commitment which the industry has had to make to deliver the improvements made so far – and we urge them to maintain it.
This is not just about the industry itself but also recognises the important contributions made by industry trade associations, the unions and the workforce themselves, not least to this review.
Safety has to remain top of the agenda, and we will continue to work closely with the offshore industry to ensure that progress is maintained.
This is an important industry – to the Scottish economy, to the UK economy and to energy security – but the long term future and sustainability of the UK Continental shelf depends upon plant and equipment being properly maintained.
We have been very pleased with the response from industry and see the cooperative approach as one which works well – but as our broader HSE strategy makes clear to all businesses – we will not hesitate to use enforcement powers to secure improvement if that is deemed to be required.
Please remember that what we are reporting today is a snapshot of the situation within the industry. It is a review we were asked to conduct by the Secretary of State, it is a progress review – and the story so far is encouraging. The challenge now is to ensure that it stays that way……
Over to Ian.