Oil & Gas UK chief executive Malcolm Webb said the association is encouraged by the news that the European Commission is prepared to be flexible in the approach it adopts to raising safety standards in Europe up to those high standards now prevailing in the countries around the North Sea.

"We support the Commission’s aims in that regard, and are ready to help them achieve this through a well-worded Directive, rather than a Regulation," Webb said.

EC earlier drafted a legislative proposal for offshore safety believing that the likelihood of a major offshore accident in European waters remains unacceptably high.

EC seeked to centralize control of offshore health and safety and environmental protection in Europe instead of each national government being responsible for regulating offshore activities in their own waters.

Oil & Gas UK had opposed the draft regulation because it believed that despite the EC’s intentions to improve safety the effect would be opposite and undermining existing high standards of offshore safety in the country.

The Regulation would apply to all of the European Union’s 27 member states, as well as Norway, which is not a member of the EU.