The Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR), a collaboration between OPRED and the HSE, produces yearly intervention plans detailing planned inspections to be undertaken of oil and gas installations. The OPRED contingent of the ODR intervention plan is based on the OPRED inspection strategy. The Offshore Environmental Inspectorate Team, enforcement policy applies to all offshore oil and gas installations operating in connection with the exploration, development or production of petroleum that come within the scope of the relevant environmental legislation. This includes:
- production platforms
- mobile drilling units
- floating production and storage offtake vessels
As part of its regulatory function OPRED undertakes a programme of planned inspections, both at operators and owners’ onshore offices and of offshore oil and gas installations, to ensure compliance with relevant Regulations and permit conditions. It is also to gain assurances that operations are undertaken with due consideration of environmental aspects and impacts and with effective controls to minimise the likelihood of releases to the environment.
Inspectors enforce the requirements on operators set out in statutory instruments (regulations) relevant to the protection of the offshore environment which include the:
- regulation, using permits with conditions, of the activities of discharge and use of offshore chemicals, the discharge of oil, and emissions from qualifying offshore combustion installations
- prohibition on the release of offshore chemicals and oil
- requirement for Licensed Operators to have an oil pollution emergency plan
The enforcement methods available to Inspectors are detailed in the relevant legislation and include: a warning letter, the serving of an enforcement, improvement or prohibition notice, revocation of a permit and prosecution. This policy sets out the general principles that Inspectors shall follow in relation to enforcement including prosecution.
The Offshore Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations 2018
The Offshore Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations 2018 (the 2018 Regulations) enable OPRED to impose civil sanctions on offshore oil and gas companies who are found to be in breach of some existing environmental regulations. The 2018 Regulations entered into force on 1 October 2018 and OPRED will consider the imposition of a civil penalty for relevant offences committed on or after 1 November 2018.
The introduction of the 2018 Regulations provides OPRED with a more flexible, proportionate and timely enforcement response in respect of breaches that amount to criminal offences and would otherwise be dealt with by prosecution. The 2018 Regulations also allow OPRED to accept undertakings from offshore operators to take action for the benefit of any person affected by the offence (including payment of a sum of money) and for this to be taken into account in setting the variable monetary penalty for the most serious breaches.
The 2018 Regulations will help to ensure that OPRED has the ability to provide sufficient deterrent against non-compliance and tackle the behaviour of those who continue to perform poorly or ignore their environmental responsibilities.
OPRED Enforcement Activity
The OPRED Offshore Environmental Inspectorate enforces offshore oil and gas environmental regulations and permit conditions. On occasion OPRED may require offshore permit holders and/or licensed operators to make improvements by issuing them with a notice; either an enforcement notice or improvement notice which allows time for the recipient to comply with prescribed conditions or a prohibition notice which prohibits an activity from occurring until remedial action has been taken.
An enforcement notice or an improvement notice may be issued where the Secretary of State is of the opinion that:
- any condition of a permit has been contravened, is being contravened or is likely to be contravened; or
- a release or a discharge without a permit has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur
Each enforcement notice and improvement notice will identify the steps to be taken to remedy or prevent the contravention/release or discharge and will specify the period within which those steps must be taken. A prohibition notice may be issued where the Secretary of State is of the opinion that the operation of an offshore installation involves an imminent risk of serious pollution. Each prohibition notice will specify the steps to be taken to remove the risk involved in the operation of the offshore installation before operations are allowed to be undertaken again.
The issue of an enforcement notice and/or a prohibition notice does not prevent other enforcement activity, such as prosecution, being progressed if this is deemed appropriate.
Public register of enforcement, improvement and prohibition notices and public register of convictions
OPRED (BEIS) has a statutory obligation under the Environment and Safety Information Act 1988 to maintain a public register of certain notices. The registers outline the formal enforcement activity undertaken by OPRED in respect of offshore oil and gas operations on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS).
Under the code of practice on access to government information, OPRED is committed to make available, on request, information about its actions and decisions, which includes information on formal enforcement activity. The information provided within the registers will be subject to release and publication in accordance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).
The OPRED public register of enforcement, improvement and prohibition notices includes all notices issued in the last 5 years. Notices that are older than 5 years old are available on request. To account for the appeals process and quality assurance there is a 5 week period following the date of issue of a notice prior to publication of the notice details on this register. Where OPRED are notified of an appeal outside this time period, details of the notice will be removed from the register. Notices that have been appealed will not appear on the register until after the appeal has been disposed.
The OPRED public register of convictions includes prosecutions brought by OPRED in the last 5 years. Details of ongoing prosecution cases and any convictions subject to appeal will not be published. To account for the appeals process there is a delay of 9 weeks following conviction before a case is added to the register. Details of prosecutions will appear on the register for a period of 5 years after which they are removed from the register and are available on request.
Register of enforcement and prohibition notices (last updated 13 June 2019)
|Notice Number||Operator||Notice Type||Legislation||Issue Date|
|33/2019||Petrofac Facilities Management Limited||Improvement||Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974; The Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive) (Safety Case etc) Regulations 2015||19 December 2019|
|018/2019||BW Offshore Catcher (UK) Limited||Enforcement||Regulation 25(1)(a)(i) of the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015||22 October 2019|
|011/2019||CNR International (U.K.) Limited||Enforcement||Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005||10 May 2019|
|010/2018||CNR International (U.K.) Limited||Enforcement||Regulation 13(1) of The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005||20 June 2018|
|007/2018||Bumi Armada UK Ltd||Improvement||Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Sections 21, 23 and 24||18 May 2018|
|030/2017||Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited||Enforcement||Regulation 13(1A) of The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005||19 December 2017|
|022/2017||ENI UK LTD Ltd||Enforcement||Regulation 13(1) of The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005||19 July 2017|
|004/2017||Statoil (U.K.) Limited||Improvement||Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Sections 21, 23 and 24||03 February 2017|
|033/2016||BP Exploration Operating Company Limited||Enforcement||Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention And Control) Regulations 2005||13 October 2016|
|032/2016||Nexen Petroleum UK Limited||Enforcement||Regulation 13(1A) of The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005||27 September 2016|
|031/2016||Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited||Enforcement||Regulation 25(1)(a)(i) of the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015||29 June 2016|
|028/2016||Total E&P UK Ltd||Enforcement||Regulation 25(1)(a)(i) of the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015||29 June 2016|
|030/2016||ENI Liverpool Bay Operating Company Ltd||Enforcement||Regulation 13(1A) of The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005||24 June 2016|
Register of convictions
|Date of Incident||Company||Legislation||Date of Conviction||Sentence|
|17 December 2013||ConocoPhillips||The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention Control) Regulations 2005||26 July 2016||Fine £7,000|
|09 July 2016||Dana Petroleum (E&P) Limited||The Offshore Chemical Regulations 2002||29 May 2019||Fine £6,000|