Currently, in the European Union (EU) law, the Directive 2013/30/EU concerning the safety of offshore operations in the Oil and Gas industry is in force. The European Commission, by means of this legislative instrument, fixed the minimum safety standards for the prospection, research and production of hydrocarbons in offshore environments. In 2015, thanks to the transposition of this Directive, the Italian government adapted to the European legislative framework in terms of safety of offshore Oil and Gas activities.
The main innovative aspect introduced in the Italian transposition Decree is the institution, by governmental appointment, of the Committee for the Safety of Offshore Operations (CSOO). With the aim of prevent relevant accidents in offshore Oil and Gas operations, the Committee, on one hand performs the functions of Competent Authority with powers of regulation, supervision and control, and on the other hand it is completely independent from the function of offshore license issue.
By transposing the Directive 2013/30/EU, it was possible to define the strategy for the control of the safety of offshore Oil and Gas infrastructures, providing the obligation for Operators to draw up a Report on Major Hazards (RoMH), which must be submitted to the CSOO. Aim of this report is to describe the technical peculiarities and the relevant performances of offshore installations in terms of health, safety and environment. In addition, to develop a detailed risk assessment, Operators are required to produce specific documentation such as the corporate major accidents prevention policy, the safety and environmental management system, the scheme of independent verification and the internal emergency response plan. To ensure that the safety and environmental critical elements identified in the risk assessment are adequate and the program for their monitoring is suitable, up-to-date and enforced, the figure of the Independent Verifier is introduced. Regardless of the verification carried out by this third party, the responsibility for the correct functioning of the systems undergoing verification is always traceable to the Operator. Finally, the task of defining and implementing processes and procedures for the evaluation of the RoMH and the relating documentation is entrusted to the CSOO.
Aim of this novel regulatory tool is to increase the safety level of offshore operations, by integrating the pre-existing legislative framework on the safety and protection of the sea from pollution, which in Italy has so far guaranteed the achievement of high safety levels for workers and the environment. Thanks to a meticulous control activity carried out by the technical Offices of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, it was possible to achieve this goal. The evaluation, performed by means of a public consultation (started in September 2018 and closed at the end of December 2018), is assessing whether the Offshore Safety Directive, as implemented by Member States, has achieved the objective to ensure safe operations.
Finally, the paper highlights the major discussion points that should be considered in assessing the common experiences of European Competent Authorities.