Offshore gas and oil
Elgin gas accident proves need for EU-wide control, say MEPs
By Tamás Kugyela | Thursday 29 March 2012
A total of 238 personnel had to be evacuated from a North Sea gas platform, on 25 March, due to a gas leak on the well, reported French energy company Total, operator of the exploitation. The platform is located on the Elgin gas field, around 240 km East of Aberdeen.
In order to keep the situation under control, “Total’s UK-based affiliate Total E&P UK Limited is cooperating fully with all relevant authorities, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA),” reads the firm’s communication.
Liberal MEP Corinne Lepage (France) believes that the accident is another confirmation that hydrocarbon extraction is conducted under more and more extreme conditions and EU-wide legislation to control these activities and stating the responsibility of the operator is becoming absolutely necessary.
The Greens-EFA group agrees and estimates that more than 20 tonnes of natural gas must have already been released into the sea in the meantime. “With its 500 platforms, the North Sea is the most exposed area to the pollution of the gas and oil extraction industry,” commented Sandrine Bélier (France).
The Commission already admitted, in its October 2011 proposal for a regulation, that the offshore industry in the EU is governed by heterogeneous health, safety and environmental regimes, which may not always provide an adequate response to possible risks. It suggests that offshore oil and gas producers need to conduct regular and safety assessments and would be fully liable for environmental damages in case of a malfunction.
The Council has not yet entered into a detailed debate on the dossier; an examination is scheduled to take place during the 15 June ministerial meeting.