Attack on 'knee-jerk' plan to tighten oil rig safety rules

CONTROVERSIAL proposals by the European Commission to tighten up the safety regime governing oil and gas exploration and production in the North Sea are "unnecessary and unworkable", according to a leading health and safety legal expert.

EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger has announced he intends to introduce a raft of changes to the legislation in the European Parliament early next year. He is expected to argue that Europe's myriad regulations for offshore exploration are too fragmented to deal with an industry pushing out into increasingly deep waters.

Hilary Ross, a partner at law firm Bond Pearce, will tell a major conference in Aberdeen this week that the proposals are the "undesirable knee-jerk reaction" the industry feared would follow the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

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Ms Ross, who will be speaking at the two-day IQPC Advanced Contract Risk Management conference, said: "At best some of these EC proposals will do absolutely nothing to drive forward the health and safety agenda and at worst they will be an unnecessary distraction from the real efforts to make the oil and gas industry more safe."

The conference is being held at Ardoe House in Aberdeen on Wednesday and Thursday.