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In a first, OGA sets in motion process for imposing sanctions on company

OGA chief executive Andy Samuel
OGA chief executive Andy Samuel

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is “sharpening its pencil” and won’t hold back from using its powers, the regulator’s boss said yesterday.

OGA chief executive Andy Samuel said the organisation had for the first time started the process that could result in sanctions being imposed on an unspecified company.

Sanctions enforceable by the OGA are graded from private warnings and public enforcement notices, all the way up to financial penalties capped at £1million, operator removals and licence revocations.

Mr Samuel said he is frequently asked why the OGA isn’t wielding its powers.

He told the audience at the Oil and Gas UK conference in Aberdeen the regulator was indeed using its clout, but that all disputes have been resolved without the need to go public, so far.

He said the Wood Review, which recommended creating a regulator, envisaged that the OGA would work behind the scenes to get activity going without “making a big fuss”.

He said the OGA had successfully resolved 29 “cases”, while 24 are being dealt with. Eleven more could soon be added to the regulator’s to-do list.

Of those already handled, eight were put to bed following a “formal intervention”, whereby the OGA sends out a “robust letter”.

Cases covered a range of areas, such as companies being too slow to provide data, through to more complex issues where operators are being asked to “put aside their own interests for the greater good of the basin”.

The OGA is now delving deeper into its arsenal of powers to deal with trickier issues.

“We have for the first time last week started a non-binding dispute resolution case,” Mr Samuel said.

“We also for the first time last week had to start an official enquiry which is the start of the sanctions process.

“There is a 15 day turnaround for the enquiry and then if necessary we will then launch an investigation, so we are sharpening our pencil.

“We’ve issued our guidance and we will not hold back from using our powers, though frankly we’re delighted when things work out without us having to go public.”

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