EU backs tougher offshore safety measures

Oct. 10, 2012 at 7:47 AM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- The European Energy Committee backed a draft law that would require offshore energy companies to submit emergency response plans before drilling.

Belgian lawmaker Ivo Belet, who drafted the resolution, said Europe was taking a lessons-learned approach to offshore drilling in the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Especially today, when many member states with no or little experience in oil and gas operations (and) are looking into starting up drilling operations, a solid legislative framework is urgently needed," he said.

Under the draft measure, energy companies would need to show the physical and financial ability to respond to and remedy any potential environmental damage. A special hazards report would be needed six months before drilling starts and companies would need to give internal emergency plans to member states.

EU members would have to prepare their own plans to cover offshore drilling within their territorial waters.

Support for Belet's measure means it moves to the European Council and eventually to Parliament for a plenary vote. Negotiations over the measure are expected to start this month.

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