The Government has promised greater security of North Sea oil and gas as part of its mission to deliver affordable, secure and clean power for Britain as the Energy Bill comes into law.
New powers for the Oil and Gas Authority are included in the Energy Act, which has received Royal Assent in the 2015/2016 parliamentary session.
The OGA was set up to better support the North Sea industry, which has been hit by the global oil price downturn, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd said: “The Energy Act is a vital part of our plan to ensure our families and businesses have access to secure, affordable and clean energy supplies they can rely on, while keeping bills down.
“By strengthening the Oil and Gas Authority and giving it powers to drive greater collaboration and efficiency in the industry, this Act shows that the broad shoulders of the UK are committed to helping our oil and gas industry attract investment, support jobs and remain competitive for the future.”
OGA chief executive Andy Samuel, said: “We welcome the news that the Energy Bill has now received Royal Assent. This is an important step in establishing the OGA as an independent government company with the necessary powers, working closely with the industry and government to help maximise the economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources.”
The Act creates a framework to formally establish the OGA as an independent regulator, taking the form of a government company, so that it can act with greater flexibility and independence.
It gives the OGA new powers including: access to external meetings; data acquisition and retention; dispute resolution; and sanctions. It also enables the transfer of the Secretary of State’s existing regulatory powers in respect of oil and gas to the OGA.
The Secretary of State’s environmental regulatory functions in relation to oil and gas are not transferred to the OGA.
The Act also enables more comprehensive charging of the offshore oil and gas industry in relation to environmental regulatory functions carried out by DECC.
Local communities will now have the say on new onshore windfarm planning decisions. The Act also brings forward the controversial early closure of the Renewables Obligation Subsidy scheme to new onshore wind developments in Great Britain.