The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is working with industry to drive improvements in the management of licences, after a review showed patchy compliance in some areas.
The OGA has published its Thematic Review into Industry Compliance with Regulatory Obligations. The review recognises that industry is improving, following earlier interventions, but stresses the importance of maintaining the high standards now achieved by the majority, and the need for a minority to catch up. 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.
The review looked at six areas of interaction between licensees and the OGA and examined the reasons why some licensees were tripping up, while others were doing a good job. The six areas investigated were – Licence Mechanics (the process of applying for, extending and renewing licences), Flaring, Venting and Production Consents, Pipeline Works Authorisations, Wells Consents, Data Requirements (Data reporting and Information and Samples Plans), and Statutory Notification of Meetings.
The review included workshops with OGA staff, key stakeholders, regulators in the UK and abroad and carefully considered the results of an anonymous survey of the people responsible for this work. This highlighted the need for improved training and better preparation for job handovers, and the OGA has therefore made a series of recommendations that it expects industry to follow:
- Set up coordinators for each area covered by the review.
- Set up generic email addresses for coordinators.
- Set up quarterly knowledge-sharing meetings for coordinators.
- Address potential single points of failure by ensuring that knowledge/roles are shared.
- Ensure new staff understand all OGA guidance.
And in the longer term and in partnership with the OGA, to:
- Work with the OGA on development of an online training academy.
- Consider new systems, including for new energy transition-generated requirements-
Although, it is industry’s responsibility to comply with regulations, the OGA is committed to help achieve this where possible and has drawn up a list of actions it will complete in the short to medium-term:
- Review and revise existing guidance.
- Deliver new wells guidance.
- Deliver new training videos.
- Continue to improve the oga website so it is easier to use.
- Incorporate survey feedback in ongoing IT developments, including guidance links and auto acknowledgement of statutory meeting notifications.
In addition, the OGA has cautioned that enforcement action is possible if licensees continue to get this wrong.
Tom Wheeler, OGA Director of Regulation, says, “The industry generally has a very good record of meeting its regulatory obligations, but in this area compliance has been patchy. While we are pleased with the response to our earlier interventions, this must be maintained, and a minority still have improvements to make. In future, industry should expect us to be proactive in taking enforcement action.”
“However, we are here to help and that is why we are pledging to improve the quality and accessibility of the guidance we produce and look forward to working with colleagues from industry on setting up a training academy and creating new systems, particularly for meeting the challenges posed by the energy transition,” Wheeler adds.