Europe clamps down on offshore energy safety

May 22, 2013 at 8:18 AM

STRASBOURG, France, May 22 (UPI) -- Legislation in the European Union regarding oil and natural gas production safety is long overdue, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

The European Commission began reviewing offshore oil and natural gas safety issues following the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010. A BP-leased oil rig caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the death of 11 rig workers and causing the worst accidental offshore oil spill in history.

European lawmakers backed legislation that would require offshore operators to ensure they have adequate financial and human resources to minimize the effects of a major accident. No license will be granted to an energy company that can't show it handle potential issues.

"These rules will make sure that the highest safety standards already mostly in place in some member states will be followed at every oil and gas platform across Europe," Oettinger said in a statement.

Belgian lawmaker Ivo Belet, who helped steer the provision, said the legislation could be used as a benchmark for safety measures at the international level.

The European Parliament adopted the measure on a vote of 572-102, with 13 abstentions.

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