OIL and gas giants operating in European waters were urged yesterday to reinforce security measures in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion which is turning into an ecological disaster.
BP, which has been declared by Washington as responsible for the disaster, was among global firms called in for talks at European Commission headquarters in Brussels by EU Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger.
He said: “No regulatory regime alone can give us 100% guarantees of safety.
“Much depends also on the attitude and practices of operators and on having an operational system available.
“I wish to make sure that the necessary legislation is in place and effectively implemented and that, at the same time, all possible efforts are made by the industry to avoid a similar accident and consequent oil spill.”
The commissioner said it was vital for politics and business to work together “to ensure the European environment and the public are as safe as they possibly can be”.
A commission statement acknowledged that, although oil and gas exploration and production operations offshore in the EU did not face the same extreme conditions as in the Gulf of Mexico, an accident affecting one or several member states could not be ruled out.
The statement said: “Although safety standards in the industry are high, the EU public must be reassured that it can feel safe about continued offshore operations near EU coast.”
A commission spokesman said representatives of a dozen companies, including BP, ExxonMobil and Shell, had been called in to provide assurances that “they fully manage all necessary risks to avoid disasters similar to the one currently witnessed in the US”.
Robert Paterson, health and safety director of Oil & Gas UK, which represents Britain’s offshore oil and gas industry, said the organisation would study any new operational, health, safety or environmental recommendations in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico incident, although the UK standards were already considered effective.