Provisions regarding Technology, the fourth of the Supporting Obligations, are stated in Paragraphs 18 and 19 of the Strategy. Limited by the Safeguards, the intention and effect of the Supporting Obligation is to expand on the Central Obligation.

Paragraph 18 states:

Relevant persons must ensure that technologies, including new and emerging technologies, are deployed to their optimum effect, as set out in a plan produced under paragraph 23, in maximising the value of economically recoverable petroleum that can be recovered from relevant UK waters, including in relation to decommissioning.

Paragraph 19 goes on to state:

When considering whether to deploy new and emerging technologies in accordance with paragraph 18 relevant persons may have regard to:

  1. the risks and uncertainties associated with such technologies; and
  2. the potential benefits to the UK of the development and deployment of such technologies.

One of the major points made by the Wood Review of 2014 was the need for the UK oil industry to use the most advanced and innovative technology to maximise the value of "economically recoverable petroleum". Paragraph 18 of the Strategy crystallizes that policy as a legal obligation which must be observed by the MER Parties. [1] Clearly the emphasis in Paragraph 18 is that technology, including "new and emerging technologies" must be deployed "to their optimum effect". It is envisaged that an OGA plan under Paragraph 23 will shortly issue which will speak to best use of technology offshore. Using technology in the best way will also be critical from the particular standpoint of decommissioning.

Paragraph 18, like many important paragraphs in the Strategy, includes a balancing test. The use of technology must be done in an "optimum" fashion. Paragraph 19 provides direction relative to this balancing test. In considering how to deploy" new and emerging" technology, the relevant MER party may have regard to the risks and uncertainties associated with such technology but also to the potential benefits to the UK of the development and deployment of such technologies. In keeping with the underlying philosophy of MER, the MER Parties should take technology decisions based on the potential benefits to the UK as a whole

Paragraph 28 of the Strategy make clear that MER Parties must consider whether collaboration or co-operation with other parties, including MER Parties or companies in the supply chain, might assist them in carrying out their obligations under the Strategy, which include, among many other things, the duty to employ technology in the optimum fashion. The OGA envisions fruitful collaboration which can magnify sector gains which reducing costs. There can however be an issue with competition if collaboration is driven too far. In this connection, Strategy Paragraph 2 outlaws any application of the Central Obligation which might be illegal. At times, however, it can be difficult to know when particular actions may be found to be anti-competitive before the event.

All collaboration arrangements require identification of what background technology the respective parties are to provide the projects. As such, careful consideration needs to be given as to the contractual basis under which each party will have access to the respective background technology. Since it is envisaged and indeed hoped for, that collaboration will generate new inventions, designs and operating methods, equally careful consideration will be required to consider how best to secure, exploit and protect such new technology and what access and rights each of the participating MER parties will have over such technology both during and after the project.