A political agreement has been reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the European Commission's proposal for a legislation on the safety of oil and gas operations in the European Union (EU).
Before proposing the legislation, the Commission reviewed the existing safety frameworks for offshore operations in Member States.
The new legislation is expected to ensure that world’s highest safety, health and environmental standards are implemented across the EU.
It is also anticipated to prevent occurrence of disasters similar to the Deepwater Horizon accident in the US Gulf of Mexico in May 2010, which killed 11 people and led to the worst offshore oil spill in the US history.
The European Parliament and Council are expected to give their formal approval to the legislation in the coming months.
Welcoming the step, EU Energy commissioner Günther Oettinger said, "Past accidents have shown the devastating consequences when things go badly wrong offshore. Recent ‘near-misses’ in EU waters reminded us of the need for a stringent safety regime."
"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 added.
"Furthermore, the new law will ensure that we react effectively and promptly in the event of an accident and minimise the possible damage to the environment and the livelihoods of coastal communities."
As per the agreed directives, the licensing authority in the Member States will ensure that only operators with proven technical and financial capacities are allowed to explore oil and gas in EU waters.
The provisions for safety, environmental protection and emergency preparedness of rigs and platforms will have to be verified by independent national competent authorities responsible for the safety of installations.
Member States can take actions or impose penalties on companies, if they do not comply with the minimum standards.
Under the new legislation, companies will have to draft a report on major hazards for their installation, an individual risk assessment and risk control measures, and an emergency response plan before commencing exploration or production.