Elaine Maslin, 5th June 2012
Energy minister Charles Hendry is speak against European Union proposals to take regulatory control of the North Sea sector in Aberdeen next week.
European Commission (EC) officials want to create blanket health and safety rules for offshore operations in all EU member states.
However, Mr Hendry will say he is strongly against the proposals and call for a directive instead of regulations.
His comments are expected to be supported by Steve Walker, head of the Health and Safety Executive’s offshore division.
Mr Hendry said: “The UK welcomes the Commission’s intent to improve offshore safety and environmental protection throughout Europe.
“However, I strongly oppose their use of a regulation to achieve this aim. A regulation will require significant amendments to be made to UK legislation. My view is that a directive would be a better approach.
“It will allow each member state to choose the most appropriate legislative regime, while also ensuring high standards in the oil and gas industry can be equally enforced across the union.”
Mr Hendry will be speaking at an Oil & Gas UK seminar focusing on the EC proposals to take overall regulatory control of offshore safety.
The event, to be held on Monday, will give a detailed overview of the various safety and operational issues which the proposed Regulation raises.
The UK and Scottish governments and industry have been fighting the proposals, described as a potential “ticking tomb bomb” for the sector.
Oil & Gas UK has led industry opposition. It says that moving regulatory control away from experienced and competent North Sea regulators to Brussels, with no prior experience or competence, would result in the opposite of its intended aim and weaken offshore safety.
The Unite union has also expressed strong opposition and recently signed a joint position statement with the RMT union and Oil & Gas UK.
Oil and gas industry leaders had their last chance to discuss the EU proposals in a meeting last week. A report will now be prepared on the proposals, which will be published in July and voted on in October.