Oil spill prompts procedure reassessment

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The UK’s new Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) met today to define a path for the early review of the sector’s practices and its readiness to respond to a major event in the UK.

Mark McAllister, the group’s chair and Fairfield Energy chief executive, said: ‘While the measures companies take under the current regulatory regime in the UK continental shelf [UKCS] have been effective in preventing blowouts over the last 20 years of operations, what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico dictates that we must reassess the provisions and procedures we employ here and the extent of our preparedness for oil-spill prevention and response.

‘The Advisory Group, which includes representatives from Oil & Gas UK, its member companies, regulators and trade unions, were keen to start this comprehensive review at the earliest opportunity so that, if appropriate, the industry in the UK is poised to respond quickly to the recommendations or learnings that may arise from the investigations in the US,’ he added. ’This is the most efficient way to help ensure that the arrangements in the UKCS continue to be fit for purpose.’

At the meeting, the key objectives of the group were agreed. OSPRAG’s work will be carried out within four technical groups, focusing on technical issues, including first response for the protection of personnel and competence; oil-spill response capability and remediation, including national emergency response measures; indemnity and insurance requirements; and Pan-North Sea issues and response mechanisms.

The group intends to review UKCS practice and regulation concerning the arrangements for pollution prevention and response, as well as the assessment of the adequacy of financial provisions for that response. It will also facilitate the implementation of any recommendations from the US investigations that are relevant to the UK.