Conservatives move to protect North Sea Rigs from costly EU rules

04-Mar-2015 @ 10:0

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Amjad Bashir Amjad Bashir

Amjad Bashir Amjad Bashir

British Conservative Energy Spokesman Dr Ian Duncan MEP has intervened to halt the European Commission adding substantial financial burden to the UK's hard pressed offshore oil and gas industry.

The European Commission has proposed to limit the emissions produced by medium-sized engines and generators, which are integral to every offshore oil platform. The Medium Sized Combustion Plant Directive would require the installation of expensive new equipment on gas and diesel engines and generators. The characteristics of the UK offshore oil and gas sector mean that compliance with the Commission's plans would be extremely challenging and in some cases unfeasible.

The plans would create huge costs, which could accelerate early decommissioning of the platforms. This would have an impact on energy security and thousands of UK jobs, while providing only minimal air quality benefits on land.

Dr Duncan has tabled an amendment in the European Parliament's Environment Committee that would mean the directive will not apply to the 194 UK offshore installations . The UK Government already regulates the air quality of North Sea Oil and gas rigs, which are only granted permits if they comply with maximum emission limits.

Dr Duncan commented:

'I am all for reducing emissions but what the European Commission has failed to consider is that their latest plans would have a disproportionate impact on oil rigs. The Commission want to force platforms to fit large, heavy and expensive new equipment on their generators. Anyone who has been on an oil rig will tell you that more space and extra weight are the two things you simply don't have.

"At a time of falling oil prices and job losses, these plans are not going to encourage the industry to keep pumping oil in the North Sea and will lead to faster decommissioning.

"They are also unnecessary given that the British Government already has world-leading emissions rules with which the rigs have to comply. I hope my colleagues on the Environment Committee will support my plan and help protect an industry already enduring challenging times."

Background

Around 8% -10% of the European Union's oil and gas consumption is produced on the UK Continental Shelf, and accelerated decommissioning would impact the future recovery of proven reserves by as much as 45%-60% during the period up to 2030. This would compound the EU’s significant dependence on energy imports (53% in 2013) and an energy import bill of over €1bn per day.

In the UK the oil and gas industry supports employment for around 450,000 people, almost half in Scotland. Accelerated decommissioning would affect employment, leading to thousands of job losses across the UK by 2030. (SOURCE – Department of Energy, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA))

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