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Offshore Directive - The safety of offshore oil and gas operations

Following the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the European Commission (EC) expressed its initial views on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations in its communication ‘Facing the challenge of the safety of offshore oil and gas activities’ (published on 13 October 2010). The EC communication concluded that the existing divergent and fragmented regulatory framework applying to the safety of offshore oil and gas operations in Europe, along with current industry safety practices did not provide adequate assurance that risks from offshore accidents were minimised throughout the Union.

On the 28th June 2013, the EC published the Offshore Directive. The objective of this Directive is to reduce as far as possible the occurrence of major accidents related to offshore oil and gas operations and to limit their consequences. The Directive contains requirements relating to licensing, environmental protection, emergency response and liability, in addition to safety and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and HSE jointly led the UK transposition.

Although the Directive is broadly based on the UK’s current offshore safety regime, HSE and DECC’s legislation has been updated to fully implement the Directive.  This includes changes to existing legislation as well as introducing new requirements.

HSE have implemented the majority of the health and safety requirements in the Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive) (Safety Case etc.) Regulations 2015.  DECC have also introduced new regulations to implement  environmental and licensing requirements.

The new regulations came into force on 19 July 2015.

The Directive also required the creation of an offshore competent authority. DECC and HSE, working in partnership, have now established the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR).  You can find information on the OSDR, including operating procedures and transitional arrangements on the OSDR website.

Transposition timetable

Date Action

Nov – March 2014

Informal consultation with industry, Trade Unions and other stakeholders (eg the environmental NGOs) on the offshore competent authority options, emerging issues and draft regulations

April 2014

DECC ministerial submissions and HSE Board Paper  on the Offshore Directive consultation package

28 July – 21 September 2014

Formal consultation on the competent authority and legislative proposals to implement the Directive

October - November 2014

Final drafts of new regulations produced, based on consultation responses and final legal package prepared, including updated guidance

March 2015

HSE and DECC's Minister's asked to clear the Offshore Directive legal package

March 2015

Regulations to implement the Offshore Directive laid before Parliament

Safety Case Regulations 2015

April/May 2015

Guidance for regulators and operators on new regulations

Draft guidance on SCR 2015. Comments invited by 22 May 2015

19 July 2015

New offshore Regulations come into force

Updated 2015-08-03