The Oil and Gas Authority has stressed the need for operators to maintain high licence management standards, after a report showed patchy compliance in some areas.
Published today, the Thematic Review into Industry Compliance with Regulatory Obligations shows that the sector is improving, following earlier interventions, but that there’s a need for a minority to catch up.
In particular, it notes that there’s room for improvement around managing production, flare and vent consents and the timeliness of licence extension requests.
The review examines six areas of interaction between licensees and the industry regulator, pinpointing the reasons why some operators were tripping up more than others.
The six areas investigated were – Licence Mechanics (the process of applying for, extending and renewing licences), Flaring, Venting and Production Consents, Pipeline Works Authorisations, Wells Consents, Data Requirements (Data reporting and Information and Samples Plans), and Statutory Notification of Meetings.
It also included workshops with OGA staff, key stakeholders, regulators in the UK and abroad and carefully considered the results of an anonymous survey of the people responsible for this work.
Findings of the review included the need for improved training and better preparation for job handovers.
In response, the OGA has drawn up a series of recommendations that it expects industry to follow, with the threat of possible enforcement action if licensees continue to get them wrong.
- set up coordinators for each area covered by the review
- set up generic email addresses for coordinators
- set up quarterly knowledge-sharing meetings for coordinators
- address potential single points of failure by ensuring that knowledge/roles are shared; and
- ensure new staff understand all OGA guidance
Longer term recommendations for licensees are to:
- work with the OGA on development of an online training academy; and
- consider new systems, including for new energy transition-generated requirements
The OGA has also drawn up a list of actions it plans to complete in the short to medium-term tohelp operators achieve their goal:
- review and revise existing guidance
- deliver new wells guidance
- deliver new training videos
- continue to improve the OGA website so it is easier to use; and
- incorporate survey feedback in ongoing IT developments, including guidance links and auto acknowledgement of statutory meeting notifications
Tom Wheeler, OGA director of regulation, said: “The industry generally has a very good record of meeting its regulatory obligations, but in this area compliance has been patchy. While we are pleased with the response to our earlier interventions, this must be maintained and a minority still have improvements to make. In future, industry should expect us to be proactive in taking enforcement action.
“However, we are here to help and that is why we are pledging to improve the quality and accessibility of the guidance we produce and look forward to working with colleagues from industry on setting up a training academy and creating new systems, particularly for meeting the challenges posed by the energy transition.”
Commenting on the publication, Katy Heidenreich, trade body OGUK’s operations director, said: “Thematic reviews are an established method of performance improvement which has been used across a number of sectors and we welcome this constructive reflection from the OGA today.
“It not only highlights areas where the UK offshore oil and gas industry and the regulator can make improvements, but also where the sector can build upon good practise. While the report looks at compliance in 2018, it is encouraging to see the OGA recognise the steps taken by industry since then that point to improvement in performance.
“However, there is always more that can be done and the recommendations provide practical and considered suggestions for both industry and the OGA to continue to improve and we look forward to building on this constructive approach.”