Britain emphasizes offshore oil and gas safety

Sept. 12, 2013 at 8:29 AM

ABERDEEN, Scotland, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A long-term reliance on conventional energy resources from the North Sea means the industry needs high safety standards, a British energy minister said.

British Minister of State for Energy Michael Fallon said a "robust regulatory regime" provides the foundation for the nation's oil and natural gas industry.

The British government is addressing the maturation of fields in the North Sea. Fallon said, however, there is a "sound future" in the region.

He told a conference on offshore oil development in Aberdeen, Scotland, the British energy sector was moving forward with lessons from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in mind.

"From the outset, we were committed to ensuring that lessons from the Macondo incident were considered and taken into account in the U.K.," he said in a statement published Wednesday.

Oil companies working offshore as of Jan. 1 need to show they have the financial ability to respond to any major incident before they can get a drilling permit.

Fallon said that, although the economy is moving toward a low-carbon future, Britain will be "significantly dependent" on oil and natural gas for many years.

"As a result, I believe that it is vital that we continue to do all we can to maximize economic recovery of our indigenous hydrocarbon reserves, whilst maintaining high standards of safety and minimizing environmental impacts," he said.

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