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

  • 24 October 2014

    GDF SUEZ, BP discover new Central North Sea Field

    “This is an encouraging exploration discovery in a part of the Central North Sea that needs additional volumes of hydrocarbons to open up development options…

  • 24 October 2014

    Chevron, BP discover oil in deepwater US Gulf of Mexico

    The discovery well, on Keathley Canyon Block 10, was drilled by operator Chevron on behalf of the Guadalupe co-owners. The well encountered significant oil pay…

  • 22 October 2014

    Shell discovers gas in pre-salt reservoir offshore Gabon

    Shell announced a frontier exploration discovery offshore Gabon, West Africa. The well Leopard-1 encountered a substantial gas column with around 200 m net gas pay…

  • 22 October 2014

    Statoil proves new oil resources near Grane field in North Sea

    Well 25/8-18 S, drilled by the rig Transocean Leader, proved an oil column of 25 m in the Heimdal Formation. The estimated volume of the discovery…

  • 21 October 2014

    IADC Cybersecurity Task Group to provide industry guidance to assess risks

    The oil and gas industry is not immune to cybersecurity threats, from computer viruses and malware to targeted attacks. The IADC Advanced Rig Technology (ART) Committee…

  • Read more news