Offshore unions and operators have attacked Government proposals to charge for safety inspections of North Sea platforms.
According to estimates by the Health & Safety Executive, which carries out the inspections and approves safety cases, North Sea operators would face a bill for £9.5m in 2000/2001.
Jake Molloy, general secretary of the OILC union in Aberdeen, said the system would create `a clear conflict of interest’ and do nothing to improve his members’ diminishing confidence in the Health and Safety Executive. `It’s scandalous,’ he said.
The UK Offshore Operators’ Association, which represents oil firms, said the charges would `change its working relationship’ with the HSE and could force companies to recover costs through cuts elsewhere.
The Government asked the Health & Safety Commission, which oversees the HSE, to bring in the charges – along with those for the gas, transportation and railways industries – as part of its review of the Control of Major Accident Hazards regulations.
The HSE said the charges would bring the sectors into line with other UK industries that operated on safety-case regimes.
The HSC has asked for responses to its proposals by 9 July. If implemented, the charges would take effect from 1 October.
* UK offshore expertise and technology are being held back by a lack of suitable local presence, adverse exchange rates, lack of information and low levels of investment, a Government report said this week. Trade minister Brian Wilson said thousands of jobs could be created if the UK raised its share of the $200bn worldwide export market.