THE UK oil and gas industry watchdog has launched an investigation into a firm after complaining of patchy compliance with regulations in the North Sea.
The Oil and Gas Authority said it has opened an investigation into a possible breach of field Production Consents, without providing further details.
“The investigation follows an Enquiry which concluded that there was sufficient initial evidence to merit a full Investigation into a potential failure to comply with such Consents,” said the authority.
The OGA noted that the launch of the investigation followed the publication in October of a review it completed into industry compliance with regulatory obligations.
The review found that compliance was improving following earlier interventions. However, the OGA said a minority of licence holders needed to catch up in order to match the high standards set by the majority.
“In particular, the review notes that there remains room for improvement around managing production, flare and vent consents and the timeliness of licence extension requests,” said the OGA at the time.
It warned that enforcement action would be possible if licensees continued to get things wrong.
The OGA can impose fines of up to £1 million on firms that are found to have breached regulations.
In January last year OGA chairman Tim Eggar said the oil and gas industry’s social licence to operate was under serious threat amid public concern about the environment.
Last month the OGA fined BP £50,000 after finding the oil giant was in breach of regulations that were introduced to help the regulator monitor drilling activity.
It found BP failed to submit the required information regarding well tests completed on the Vorlich field.
The OGA noted that the lack of information could have exposed BP to a potential flare breach. However, there was no flare breach.
The fine was the first of its kind imposed by the OGA, which said that investigations into other firms were underway.
BP said it fully accepted the outcome of the OGA investigation, which reflected the company’s own findings. BP said it had already put in place corrective measures. The company noted that the OGA had recognised that its failure to meet the reporting requirements was inadvertent and there had been no unauthorised flaring.
The OGA was formed amid efforts to help the North Sea industry fight back during the slump that followed the sharp drop in oil prices from 2014 to 2016.