The underwater engineering industry, in terms of its support for offshore oil/gas projects, is young Although the first underwater projects relating to the exploration for, and exploitation of, hydrocarbon resources took place some 40 to 50 years ago, major underwater work has only been carried out for the past 30 or so years, and as far as the North Sea area is concerned, only since the mid-1960s

The title of this paper includes the phrase ‘their impact on underwater projects’ Having agreed to present it I have come to the conclusion that I can only deal realistically, in the timescale available, with part of the total legislation and associated standards and therefore propose to cover diving, ROV/submersibles and dynamic positioning. The full range of ‘underwater projects’ would have also required cranes and lifting equipment, medical aspects, life saving and subsea production systems to be covered in similar detail Perhaps all of that can be reserved for another occasion.

Again, because of time constraints, I have decided in the main to address the subject with particular emphasis on the North Sea area That was not to chicken out of dealing with the total international scene but simply to keep the paper within manageable proportions It is appreciated that underwater work is carried out in a supporting role on an international basis and that littoral States of the North-West European Continental Shelf area have no exclusive hold over ‘standards, codes, requirements and regulations’.

There are a limited number of international standards which will, however, be addressed, as will particular client requirements, either by way of example or with reference to client groups, such as UKOOA, NIFO, and E and P Forum.

The paper will address some specific problem areas, but only very briefly Much more will be said on those during the paper's presentation.

Brief comments are also included concerning the future, in the sense of ‘do we need more or less legislation, rationalization, harmonization, or what?’

Finally I apologise now for errors which this article is bound to contain The subject is so wide and complex that it has not been possible for me to check, double check and triple check every single reference or to choose, mull over and edit every single phrase and sentence I do hope, however, that there are no significant errors and those that there are, are of detail only.


This section will address in turn the standards, codes, requirements and regulations in relation to underwater projects, with particular emphasis on offshore oil and gas activities, in the following countries UK, Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Eire.

Whilst the basis of legislation in each of these littoral States varies, the same broad principles apply Time does not permit descriptions of the way regulations are formed in relation to national law making requirements.

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