The paper concerns Regulations for Offshore Installations for mineral workings on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. Particular emphasis is placed on permanent structures. The motive and method of making the regulations is described and the requirements are specified. Mention is made of the UK Government's efforts to promote harmonisation of regulations, for, in the first instance North West Europe.
There are no Regulations in the UK specifically for permanent offshore structures. The Regulations are for "Offshore Installations" ", high include all fixed and mobile units for exploiting or exploring for minerals, including oil and gas.
The history of the Regulations begins in fact with a disaster to a mobile unit; the jack-up barge "Sea Gem".
In the UK the Continental Shelf Act of 19641 had given effect to certain provisions of the Continental Shelf Convention of 1958, enabling offshore areas to be licensed for exploring for petroleum. Because it was suspected that the Dutch gas fields extended into the Southern Basin of the North Sea there was considerable interest in the area, and the first round of licensing, and the subsequent efforts of the oil companies to explore their license blocks captured the public interest.
When late in 1965 the "Sea Gem" made the first commercial discovery of gas, the BP "West Sole" field, there was hope of a vast supply of cheap, easily obtained energy for the people of Britain, and the words "North Sea Gas" were on everyone's lips. The reality "Jas cruelly shown on 27 December. The Sealfem was being jacked down prior to moving to a new location when it collapsed, capsized 'and sank killing thirteen of the thirty-two men on board; not cheap in cost of human lives.
The Minister of Power, who at the time, was responsible for oil and gas, set up a tribunal to enquire into the accident. The tribunal made certain recommendations on the basis of its findings.2 Although the recommendations were made in the light of experiences. With mobile units (there were at the time still no fixed platforms) they were intended to apply to all installations. One of the two main recommendations was in fact that a statutory code of similar authority to the US "Rules and Regulations for Artificial Islands and Fixed Structures on the Outer Continental Shelf" should be applied; the other was that on any installation there should be a "mature and responsible person" to act in the manner of the master of a ship, and have complete responsibility for the safety and welfare of those on that installation.
In order to put into effect these recommendations legislation was required: This was passed as the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act, 1971.3This was in the form of an "enabling act which, after it had been passed by Parliament, allowed a Minister (by now the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, was responsible) to make Regulations on the following topics.