There are acknowledged differences in deregulation of offshore E&P safety by the US Minerals Management Service and the W(Health & Safety Executive. The US is part of the way through a patient reform of it's contemporary rules whilst the UK has almost completed the installation of a radically new and forceful regime.

Because both regulators share a common key aim, this paper explores the background to the status quo by going back to the beginning of this century to track oilfield and regulatory development on troth sides of the Atlantic.

The closing part of the paper identifies the nature of the current divide between the UK and US positions, which were once so close. At a time of consolidation for the HSE and a time of looking into the future for MMS, I speculate, at the close, on how the HSE might have responded to the choices confronting the MMS.

History of UK Oil Industry & Regulation

Early History. The E&P industry has always been dominated by the US. Some American companies can make money out of undertakings that most European companies would not glance sideways at, It is not just a question of scale and consequential opportunity, it is a matter of history - and, to a lesser extent, culture History, in fact, is the most important influence on the situation I describe in this paper.

Many people know that the US oil industry is nearly J50 years old, Fewer people know that the UK industry is 100 years old. 1a 1896, before the proper application of rotary drilling in the US, and the Spindle top gusher, a commercial gas development on the English south coast supplied a hospital and railway station with heat and light. However, the UK E&P industry didn't come to much for a long time and, with no production to speak of, in 1914 the UK Government took a stake in what was to become BP in order to secure supplies for the oil burning Naval fleet during World War 1

After the War the government attempted to ginger-up the exploration scene by offering monopoly licenses - effectively licensing people rather than leasing areas, which it had no powers to do, except on Government or Crown (belonging to the Storke) land. This proved only modestly successful: The Duke of Devonshire, one of the few to try their luck started the only ?significant' development near to his family seat at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and for a while produced 1700 gallons per week.

Tile 1930's was most important, In 1934 the Crown took all undiscovered reserves into it's ownership and the Governmentpassed law' 10 appoint lease operators (licensees) - thereby creating the concept of sharecroppers, of which BP was to be the dominant party, and at the same time bringing the UK and US Federal lands systems very close together.

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