Offshore Safety Directive: More Paperwork or More Clarity?

Following one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a growing pressure from the public drove Brussels to adopt the European Union Safety Directive in June 2013.

The European member states were given until the 19th of July 2015 to transpose the provisions into their own national legislations. As the EU countries start to follow in the UK’s footsteps a question still arises what will this mean for the offshore industry and safety of both the workers and the environment.

Speaking at today’s technical session on offshore safety, held within the framework of the Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam, Ben Oudman, Head of Gas Consulting and Services at DNV GL-Oil and Gas Netherlands said that the practical consequences of the OSD for the Dutch sector were still to be determined and that the direction to be taken was still quite unknown.

The Dutch market has a long tradition of self-regulation and the only difference with respect to the OSD when compared to other EU countries is the fact that in the Netherlands it would apply both offshore and onshore.

The main novelty being introduced by the transposition of the directive is the obligatory verification of minimum safety requirements by an independent verification body. However, one of the key points raised is whether the implementation of the directive would mean more paperwork for the operators.

When asked by World Maritime News to comment on this, Oudman said many of the operators are already doing a lot of work in this respect and that was the reason why the implementation of the directive should not mean any more paperwork.

“We as an independent verifier don’t aim at more paperwork and that is not where we add value. So, I think, in the end it should lead to less paperwork and more clarity,” Oudman added.

As stressed, in the end the aim of the directive is not just to verify but to make operations safe by making companies to become compliant.

Commenting on the same issue, Jurgen Joosten, HSE Manager NL Operations at Centrica Productions Nederland, said that the amount of paperwork to be dealt with also depends upon the company itself adding that once you have the necessary paperwork in place things become much easier.

However, for the companies that did not plan ahead and that do not have the paperwork ready, in the beginning it would mean more administration until a system is set up.

As explained by Bram Leerdam, HSE&Q Manager at Paragon Offshore, the process is a journey that takes time, but once in place it is a beautiful system.

Another issue pointed out as the key driver in pushing for the more consistent compliance across the EU is the need to regain public trust in the safety reports of offshore operators and tell more positive stories on the good work being done at the moment.

Ultimately, the goal is to change the way of operations with the implementation of the directive thereby mitigating the scope of potential consequences both on human life and the environment stemming from human error, as mistakes are bound to happen and cannot be fully ruled out.

According to Gert-Jan Windhorst, Deputy Secretary General of the Netherlands Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Association (NOGEPA), it is key not to “fall in the paperwork trap but focus on what prevents incidents.”

World Maritime News Staff

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