EU seeks pledges over oil rig safety

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The Independent Online

Oil and gas companies operating in European waters were last night told to reinforce security measures in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The EU Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, met oil industry representatives to gain assurances that Europe was not facing a disaster similar to that affecting the US Gulf coast following the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

BP, which Washington has declared responsible for the disaster, was one of the oil energy companies called in for talks at European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Mr Oettinger said: "No regulatory regime alone can give us 100 per cent guarantees of safety. Much depends also on the attitude and practices of operators and on having an operational system available.

"I wish to make sure the necessary legislation is in place and effectively implemented and that, at the same time, all possible efforts are made by the industry to avoid a similar accident and consequent oil spill."

He said it was vital for politicians and business leaders to work together "to ensure the European environment and the public are as safe as they possibly can be". He acknowledged that, although oil and gas exploration and production offshore in the EU did not face the same extreme conditions as in the Gulf of Mexico, an accident affecting one or several member states could not be ruled out.

It added: "Although safety standards in the industry are high, the EU public must be reassured that it can feel safe about continued offshore operations near EU coasts."

Current EU rules set out standards for safety of oil and gas rigs and environmental protection requirements.

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