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EU Offshore Directive Update – Key Points For The New Safety Case

EU Offshore Directive Update – Key Points For The New Safety Case

Ashok Rebello

At two industry briefing sessions this week the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) provided the first insight into how the post July 2015 regime might look. We now know what the new Competent Authority will look like and how the complicated transitional arrangements are expected to work in practice.

Competent Authority

Many had expected that the regulatory and enforcement functions of DECC would transfer to HSE. However it is intended that the Competent Authority will be a partnership between HSE and DECC based on a memorandum of understanding defining the areas that they will oversee together, with each party bringing their own expertise. The day to day functions of the Competent Authority will be delivered by DECC OGED and the HSE’s Energy Division. However there will be a single regulatory face, with a single set of processes and procedures and a single enforcement model for matters covered by the Directive. This will be achieved, in part, by a single portal through which submissions and notifications can be made (although it is anticipated that this portal will not be operational until some time after July 2015).

There will be a single intervention plan for each duty holder covering all planned inspection activities by the Competent Authority. Offshore inspections will be presumed to be joint DECC/HSE whenever appropriate and investigations will be coordinated between DECC and HSE with a lead partner.
The independence of DECC OGED is to be assured through changes to the Licensing regime in accordance with the proposals outlined in the Wood Review.

Transitional arrangements

The main legislative changes are to be effected by repealing of the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 and replacing them with the new expanded regulations (the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2015) incorporating the requirements of the Directive.

The 2015 Regulations are expected to be brought into force on 19 July 2015. New installations will require to comply with the new regulations immediately. Existing installations can rely on the transitional provisions. For existing non-production installations the updated Safety Case must be approved by 19 July 2016 or the date of the next thorough review whichever is earlier. Existing production installations undertaking well operations are also required to meet this deadline. For other existing production installations, the updated Safety Case must be approved by 19 July 2018 or the date of the next thorough review, again whichever is earlier. What this means in practice is that a significant number of installations may require to submit a new Safety Case earlier than the 2016 or 2018 deadlines. HSE have suggested that Duty Holders will require to “book a slot” in advance of the due date in order to ensure that their new Safety Case can be accepted in time. In some cases, where a large number of Safety Cases will fall due around the same time the submission date may require to be far in advance of the thorough review deadline.

Major Environmental Incidents

The requirement to include environmental incidents in the new Safety Case had been seen as a significant change. However the Directive restricts itself to major environmental incidents resulting from accidents  with significant potential to cause fatality or serious personal injury. Therefore if the incident only has potential to cause an environmental release but does not pose a risk to personnel it does not require to be covered by the updated Safety Case no matter how major the release.

This demarcation between environmental issues that do not affect safety and those that do is also reflected in the additional requirements for the verification scheme. The verification scheme will need to cover safety and environmental critical elements but not those which are purely related to pollution prevention, such measures in relation to produced water.

There is still much work to be done before the new requirements are likely to be available in final form and a period of formal consultation with the industry will begin in the summer. Full details of the timetable for implementation can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/offshore/directive.htm

If you have any queries about the EU Offshore Directive and how this will affect you the HSE Team at Burness Paull are here to help - just give us a call.

Ashok Rebello