Europe Deliberates Avoidance of a Second 'Deepwater Horizon'
A provisional deal on proposed legislation for the safety of offshore oil and gas operations has been struck by MEPs and Council negotiators.
Before oil and gas firms can get a licence to drill, the directive would require them to submit major hazard reports and emergency response plans and prove their ability to remedy any environmental damage caused.
"Europe learned its lessons from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and wants to reduce the risks of offshore oil and gas drilling to a minimum. Especially now that several member states are exploring new drilling operations, we need an efficient legislative framework. The previous directive is nearly 20 years old and does not guarantee the safety of offshore drilling operations in an adequate manner", said Ivo Belet (EPP, BE), who led the negotiations.
This agreement ensures an EU legal framework that will help us to prevent offshore accidents in our seas and ensure rapid intervention which will limit potential damage", said Energy Committee Chair Amalia Sartori (EPP, IT).
Why a directive?
Although the Commission's initial proposal referred to a "regulation" (which would be directly binding upon all member states), negotiators for Parliament and the Council agreed to recommend adopting a directive (which lays down ends, but leaves means to member states) instead, in order to avoid redrafting existing equivalent national laws.
Application and transposition
Member states with offshore waters that have no offshore oil and gas operations under their jurisdiction, and landlocked countries with companies registered in their territories would need to apply only a limited number of this directive's provisions. Member states would have two years to transpose the directive into their national laws.
The provisionally agreed text which still needs to be adopted formally by COREPER will be put to an Energy Committee vote, probably in March, and then a plenary one in May (provisional timetable).