Offshore oil industry safety regulations almost ready

Vol 10, PW 15 (16 Nov 06) People & Policy
     

Offshore explorers in India will soon have to deal with a new set of health and safety rules.

Bureaucrats in the oil ministry are drawing up a set of new safety regulations for offshore oil and gas operations after wide-ranging consultations with industry. Called the Petroleum and Natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations) Rules, 2006, these are being prepared by the oil ministrys Oil Industry Safety Directorate.

Moves to tighten up health and safety laws come as foreign explorers show increasing interest in India and a spate of high-profile ONGC-related accidents offshore Mumbai. Work to draw up the rules was assigned to the oil industry group Petrofed by the Oil Industry Safety Directorate.

Petrofed held its first set of meetings with industry in August this year and later circulated a draft set of rules for comments and feedback for a meeting in September. British Gas, Cairn Energy, Halliburton, Niko Resources, ONGC and Reliance Industries were among those that broadly approved a set of final draft rules.

Defence and law ministry bureaucrats are now poring over the fine print and will soon submit their inevitable comments and suggestions. Once approved, the rules will be enshrined in statute, covered by the Oilfields (Regulation and Development) Act, 1948 and the Territorial Water, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Maritime Zones Act, 1978.

At first sight, the draft rules are exhaustive and a mixture of British, American and Norwegian safety regulations. Still unclear is who will be the offshore safety regulator Until now the DGH has carried out safety audits of offshore facilities.

In India, the Directorate General of Mines regulates health and safety issues for onshore petroleum operations.