FORMER energy minister Lord Fraser told leaders in the oil and gas sector yesterday that safety could not be compromised if they wanted to avoid a devastating event, such as the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster, happening in the North Sea.
Lord Fraser said such an incident could have catastrophic consequences for the UK, including loss of life, environmental damage and even the collapse of major oil operators and governments.
He was speaking at a seminar in Aberdeen yesterday which looked at the future of the oil and gas industry over the next decade, hosted by commissioning and technology specialist qedi in the Marcliffe Hotel.
Lord Fraser said the explosion on the Gulf of Mexico rig on April 20, which killed 11 workers and set off one of the worst oil spills in America’s history, should serve as a warning to North Sea operators. He added: “The Gulf of Mexico tragedy combined with historical events in the global energy industry – including those in the North Sea – have demonstrated the catastrophic consequences in terms of loss of life, environmental damage and financial cost when operations go wrong.
“Not only do such incidents damage the reputation of large oil and gas companies and have the potential to bring them down, but any sitting government of the day could suffer the same fate.”
Lord Fraser said the damage to the local economy and the environment would take years to repair if a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon explosion took place in UK waters, adding: “For the UK as a small island this could be an immeasurable event with potential risks to other European countries and all the associated litigation that would materialise.”