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EU calls for improved security on offshore rigs

Security measures imposed by offshore oil and gas giants should be stepped up to avoid an ecological disaster similar to the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion, according to EU Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger.

Oettinger called BP, which has been held responsible for the disaster by Washington, and other global firms in for a meeting at European Commission headquarters in Brussels.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger said: “No regulatory regime alone can give us 100% guarantees of safety.”

“Much depends also on the attitude and practices of operators and on having an operational system available,” Oettinger said. “I wish to make sure that the necessary legislation is in place and effectively implemented and that, at the same time, all possible efforts are made by the industry to avoid a similar accident and consequent oil spill.”

Robert Paterson, health and safety director of Oil & Gas UK, which represents the UK offshore oil and gas industry, said the organisation would study any new operational, health, safety or environmental recommendations in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico incident, although the UK standards were already considered effective.

“In order to minimise the risk of a blowout in the UK, we have a goal-setting regime overseen by a strong regulator, the Health and Safety Executive, which requires companies to put in place robust checks and balances to prevent blowouts,” he said.

“This less prescriptive type of regulation enables more flexibility because it allows companies to implement the latest technology as and when it becomes available rather than waiting for regulations to be updated.”

Paterson said the rules also required independent verification of the design, construction and maintenance of a well by a qualified expert detached from the direct line of operational management.

“That included monitoring and controlling pressure limits throughout the well’s operational life, to counter any risk of leaks.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • How often have BP and other off shore oil operators practiced putting a 'cap' on a blownout oil pipe?

    How many 'caps' are kept available, within a day or two's sailing, of each rig?

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