CATEGORIZED | 2010, November/December

European Commission urges its own moratoria; industry fights against ‘unjustified’ move

Posted on 08 November 2010

By Mike Killalea, editor & publisher

Even as the deepwater drilling moratorium is lifted in the US, the European Commission urged member states to consider suspending licensing of “new complex oil or gas exploration operations” until European offshore safety regimes are assessed.

“While any decision to suspend offshore drilling operations is left to the discretion of Member States, the commission reiterates its call upon the Member States to rigorously apply a precautionary approach in the licensing of new complex oil or gas exploration operations and to examine whether a suspension of such licensing is needed until the European offshore safety regimes have been assessed in light of the Deepwater Horizon accident,” the commission proclaimed.

The announcement brought a speedy and blistering response from Oil & Gas UK, whose chief executive Malcolm Webb said, “Oil & Gas UK is extremely concerned that, once again, the EU Commission is calling for a suspension of new licensing, a measure that is wholly unjustified and inappropriate for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. It is also deeply worrying that in addition, it now proposes to implement centralized and prescriptive safety regulation.”

The result will be counterproductive, Mr Webb contended. “This would undermine the advanced and highly sophisticated regulatory regimes currently working so well, for example in the United Kingdom, Norway and the Netherlands,” he said.

Mr Webb pointed out that the UK’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG), a coalition of industry, regulators and trade unions, clearly demonstrates the “responsiveness of the safety-case regime and the open safety culture which it breeds.”

OSPRAG, which kicked off operations in May, recently announced plans to move ahead with commissioning detailed designs for a full/partial pressure-capping device with the potential to serve as a central element of the UK’s oil-spill response contingency plans. The engineering firm Wood Group Kenny developed the system, developing three design concepts. Of these, OSPRAG opted to progress with a modular device to close off a well in the event of a blowout. OSPRAG said that this design is the most appropriate for the weather typical of the UK, particularly West of Shetland.

In the US, five major operators have committed $1 billion to developing the Marine Well Containment System. The operators, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP, plan specially designed equipment available for rapid response and capable of operating in water depths to 10,000 ft. This will add containment capability of 100,000 bbl/day, significantly more than the Macondo spill.

Leave a Reply

*

FEATURED MICROSITES


Recent Drilling News

  • 22 December 2014

    BP and SOCAR to explore shallow water Absheron Peninsula

    BP and SOCAR signed signed a new production sharing agreement (PSA) to jointly explore for and develop potential prospects in the shallow water area around the Absheron Peninsula...

  • 17 December 2014

    Saudi Aramco: Four factors for a sustainable drilling business

    Despite the modest growth in demand and drop in oil prices today, the long-term outlook for industry is healthy. “Our industry will need to add around 40 million bbl per day for new capacity...

  • 16 December 2014

    Ensco development program produces driller in 3 years

    Ensco’s Accelerated Development Program (ADP) takes a “green” individual and, within a three-year period, trains them to become a driller. In response to personnel shortages in various areas, including drilling...

  • 16 December 2014

    Saudi Aramco: ‘Industry cannot afford to lose talent when the economy is down’

    Industry is facing a human resources challenge in two areas: the ageing workforce and the shortage of skills, Mohammed Al Sellemi...

  • 16 December 2014

    Nanotechnology has potential to improve tool performance in extreme environments

    In terms of temperature stability and corrosion, tools have limitations, especially in extremely challenging drilling environments. Jothibasu Ramasamy...

  • Read more news