Safety of offshore oil and gas operations

Offshore oil and gas accidents are a constant possibility. The regulation establishes minimum safety requirements to prevent them and to limit their consequences for the marine environment and coastal economies if they do occur.

Directive 2013/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on safety of offshore oil and gas operations and amending Directive 2004/35/EC.

As the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the United States in 2010 or the Usumacinta incident in Mexico 3 years earlier demonstrated, offshore oil and gas accidents can have disastrous environmental and financial consequences as well as leading to loss of life.

The European Union directive on the safety of offshore operations, adopted in June 2013, requires operators to take all necessary measures to prevent any major accidents and to have available sufficient physical, human and financial resources to limit the consequences when they do occur. It applies to all existing and future installations.

Licensing and regulation

To carry out offshore oil and gas activities, operators must receive a licence from an independent authority. To prevent any conflict of interest, Member States must ensure a clear separation between this regulation of offshore safety and environmental factors and other functions that relate to economic development, licensing and revenue management.

Before beginning any activities, the operator or owner of an installation must provide the relevant authority with:

a copy of the corporate major accident prevention policy;
the company’s safety and environmental management system; and
a report on major hazards.

Emergency response plans

Operators must also prepare internal emergency response plans to respond to any major hazard. This must include an analysis of how to handle oil spills. In addition, national authorities must develop emergency response plans covering all offshore oil and gas installations and infrastructure, including potentially affected areas within their jurisdiction.

Public information

The directive stipulates that an exploration well cannot be drilled before the public has had an opportunity to be fully informed and make its views known on the possible effects of any planned offshore operations.

The European Maritime Security Agency can help EU countries in drawing up their emergency response plans and in detecting and monitoring oil and gas spills. Given the potential transboundary impact of an accident, national authorities must regularly exchange knowledge, information and experience with their counterparts elsewhere in the EU and consult the industry, other stakeholders and the European Commission.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2013/30/EU



OJ L 178 of 28.6.2013


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