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EC accused of interfering over North Sea reserves

The European Commission is weighing up whether to regulate offshore oil and gas safety in a bid to prevent accidents.

However, opponents to the move have accused it of unnecessarily interfering, heaping unwanted bureaucratic measures on UK energy firms.

Brussels bureaucrats have been accused of launching a power grab over Britain’s lucrative North Sea reserves.

Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner, has proposed new rules which would set EU-wide safety standards for oil and gas operations.

This would introduce a legal requirement on firms to issue plans for ensuring personnel safety and preventing environmental hazards.

Companies would also have to show that they are ready to react to any emergency and have the necessary financial and technical capabilities to clean up in case of a major accident.

Nearly 900 offshore installations are operating in the EU, of which 486 are in UK waters.

Energy minister Charles Hendry has spoken out against the move stating that the government is deeply opposed to the planned moves by the EU

Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “The safety of the workforce is the industry’s top priority.

“We fear that far from adding any tangible benefit to the UK’s world-class system, moving overall responsibility for offshore safety to the EU, which has absolutely no experience or competence in the area, would undermine our high standards.”