This article was first published in the March issue of Marine & Maritime Gazette, and the original article can be found on page 16 here.

In January 2018 draft Regulations were published that confer powers on Inspectors in BEIS's Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment Decommissioning ('OPRED') to check compliance by offshore companies (operators) with Consents to Locate, granted by OPRED under Part 4A Energy Act 2008.

Conditions of these Consents include obligations to maintain navigational aids and ancillary equipment on offshore installations and vessels (offshore facilities) engaged in hydrocarbon-related activities within the United Kingdom Continental Shelf and relevant UK territorial waters, (the regulated zone).

The need for these Regulations has arisen due to a number of incidents from 2015 onwards whereby some operators failed to resolve within a reasonable timeframe serious non-compliances with the conditions of Consents to Locate, despite continued pressure by OPRED.

The Regulations contain eight articles:

  • Article 1 Citation and commencement
  • Article 2 Interpretation
  • Article 3 Powers to inspectors
  • Article 4 Duty to produce evidence of appointment
  • Article 5 Answers given in compliance with requirement under regulation 3(3)(g): admissibility in evidence
  • Article 6 Offences
  • Article 7 Offences by bodies corporate etc.
  • Article 8 Review

The 2018 Regulations will not change the existing requirements of the Consents to Locate regime or place extra burden on the offshore hydrocarbons sector. However, OPRED would be able to charge the offshore sector for inspections conducted under these Regulations and for other associated regulatory services by virtue of the Pollution Prevention and Control (Fees) (Miscellaneous Amendments and other Provisions) Regulations 2015, as amended.

OPRED intend to make available, as soon as possible after the Regulations have come into force, updated guidance on the Consents to Locate regime to further clarify specific elements relating to the existing regime and reflect the introduction of the instrument. The Regulations do not alter the existing Consents to Locate regime - it gives OPRED the ability to independently investigate breaches.