The offshore oil and gas industry in the UK is currently undergoing a sea change in the way in which environmental aspects of its business are managed. In 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry, the UK's regulator with responsibility for environmental issues offshore, announced its intention to apply elements of the European Directive on Pollution Prevention and Control to the offshore oil and gas industry. In the first instance, the scope of the regulation will cover the generation of power on offshore facilities. From November 2000, all new installations and existing installations undergoing a substantial change will require a permit to operate combustion processes. From 2001 it is proposed to extend this permit system to the control of chemical use and discharge. Further extension of the permit system is anticipated over the following years. By November 2007, all offshore installations will be covered by the regulation and will require a permit to operate.

This paper addresses the requirements of the new regulatory regime and the implications for the UK offshore industry. Using the combustion processes regulation as an example, it discusses the information required by the DTI before a permit can be granted and the problems operators may face in meeting requirements of the regulation. Specifically the paper will discuss the problems associated with retrofitting dry low NOx technology, the monitoring of emissions and the benefits of atmospheric dispersion modelling. Wherever possible the paper draws on the experience of operators and uses practical examples to highlight the issues.

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