Last year we reported on developments concerning the Offshore Safety Directive, culminating in the new EU Directive coming into force on 18 July 2013.

In November 2013, Derek Saward, Head of the Environmental Management Team, DECC, spoke at the Oil & Gas UK Environmental Seminar about DECC's expectations for the implementation and implications for environmental regulation. The "Triennial Review Report: Health and Safety Executive" followed, in which it was stated that the "HSE and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) should look at moving, where appropriate, environmental protection inspection functions currently carried out by DECC’s Offshore Environmental Unit into HSE as part of the new Competent Authority."

On 4 February 2014, an initial analysis of each of the 40 articles within the Directive was jointly issued, by the HSE and DECC following work carried out by their respective policy and legal teams. On 26 February 2014 a HSE and DECC Workshop is scheduled to take place in Aberdeen, in advance of the formal consultation procedure which is scheduled to take place between June - September 2014. On 27 February 2014, Oil & Gas UK are hosting an EU Offshore Directive Seminar with contributions from the HSE and DECC.

The initial analysis of the articles provides an insight into what might be expected as work continues on the transposition of the Directive into UK legislation. Responses from industry are sought, on projected costs as a result of potential changes to be introduced under the Directive. In particular, there are a number of new documentary requirements which may not all result in legislative change, but will involve amendment to current working procedures.

Changes to current procedure include documents required of operators or owners, such as the internal emergency response plan, a combination of existing emergency plans, which must now be described or submitted with the Safety Case. Likewise, certain documents will now see environmental aspects included, e.g. the report on major hazards for production and non-production installations and design notifications.

Where legislative changes are required, the focus is largely on the drafting of new requirements into the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005. Amendments are also said to be expected to the Offshore Installations (Emergency Pollution Control) Regulations 2002, the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response & Co-operation Convention) Regulations 1998, and the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009. Responses are further sought on the question of “meshing” Safety Zone regulations into either the Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 2005 or the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005.

Two key points of interest going forward: firstly, the analysis acknowledges the Corporate Major Accident Prevention Policy as an entirely new requirement however no further comment is made. Discussion on the implications of this document is eagerly awaited at the upcoming consultation events. Similarly, commentary upon the future of the HSE and DECC and the establishment of a Competent Authority is not included in the analysis, other than to state that there will be costs to Government for new procedural arrangements. Further information relating to the future of the regulators is expected soon.

Finally, it is notable that the section on Penalties within the initial analysis has been left blank; an explanation is be expected as the consultation process proceeds, particularly in light of the wording of the Article and the reporting requirement imposed: Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Member States shall notify those provisions to the Commission by 19 July 2015 and shall notify it without delay of any subsequent amendment affecting them