Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited (onshore England operations) and Rathlin Energy Limited (onshore Northern Ireland operations) each have moral and statutory obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Health And Safety At Work Order (NI) 1978, to ensure the health and safety of its employees and any other persons who may be affected by its activities, so far as is reasonably practicable.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the equivalent Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000 requires Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited and Rathlin Energy Limited respectively to make arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of a company’s health and safety arrangements. Regulation 3 of both Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation requires Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited and Rathlin Energy Limited to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of its employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and the risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct of their operations.
Risk assessments are undertaken for the purpose of identifying measures needing to be implemented in order for Rathlin Energy to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on it by relevant statutory provisions made under the health and safety legislation.
Key relevant statutory provisions associated with the exploration and production of petroleum, are summarised below:
The Offshore Installation and Wells (Design & Construction etc.) Regulations 1996 and equivalent Northern Ireland Regulation, the Offshore Installation and Wells (Design & Construction etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996, is applicable to onshore petroleum boreholes. Regulation 13 places general obligations upon the Well-Operator (Rathlin Energy) to ensure that a well is designed, modified, commissioned, constructed, equipped, operated, maintained, suspended and abandoned, that so far as is reasonably practicable, there can be no unplanned escape of fluids from the well and subsequent risk to the health and safety of persons from the well, including anything from within the well or from the strata to which the well is connected, so far as is considered as low as is reasonably practicable.
Regulation 18 places obligations upon the Well-Operator (Rathlin Energy) to make and put into effect arrangements in writing for independent examination by a competent person of the design of the well. This independent examination is intended to provide the Well-Operator with assurance that the well is designed and constructed properly and is maintained adequately. Specific emphasis is given to the impartiality and independence of those responsible for carrying out independent examinations.
The Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995 and equivalent Northern Ireland Regulation, the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 is specific to onshore drilling operations and sets out the obligations of the Operator (Rathlin Energy). Within the regulations, Regulation 6 requires the Operator (Rathlin Energy) to notify the Health and Safety Executive not less than 21 days in advance of the drilling or well operations commencing. The purpose of the notification is to inform the Health and Safety Executive of the intention to carry out a borehole operation and in particular the method by which the well operation will be carried out. The 21 day notification period is necessary to allow the Health and Safety Executive sufficient time to review the proposed borehole operation and intervene if it deems necessary.
Regulation 7 of the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations sets out the obligation placed upon the Operator (Rathlin Energy) to prepare and hold on site a ‘health and safety document’, which is required to demonstrate that the risk to which persons at the borehole site are exposed whilst they are at work have been assessed in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation and the prevention of specific hazards associated with petroleum borehole operations.
In accordance with the Water Resources Act 1991 and the Ground Water (Northern Ireland) Regulation 2009, Rathlin Energy is obligated to give notice to the Environment Agency of its proposal to construct a borehole for the purpose of extracting minerals. The notification details the method by which the borehole is to be constructed.
The Environment Agency reviews the notification and may issue a Notice to Conserve Water Resources, which sets out the Environment Agency’s requirements in order to ensure conservation of the water.
A number of activities associated with oil and gas exploration and production fall within the requirements of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. These activities may include, a groundwater activity, where there is a potential impact on groundwater, a mining waste activity, for the management of extractive wastes, industrial emissions activity when flaring in excess of 10 tonnes of natural gas per day during testing, radioactive substances activity for the management of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) if encountered during drilling and a water discharge activity, in the event that water is required to be discharged.
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 transpose a number of European Directives, including the Mining Waste Directive 2006/21/EC and the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU.
The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) is a European Directive, from which the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003, derives. It provides a regulatory system that employs an integrated approach to control the environmental impact to air, land and water of emissions arising from industrial activities. It involves determining the appropriate controls for industry to protect the environment through a single permitting process.
In order to gain a PPC permit, operators of industrial sites must show that they have systematically developed proposals to apply the Best Available Techniques (BAT) to pollution prevention and control and that they address other requirements, relevant to local factors.
The Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 and the equivalent Northern Ireland Regulation, the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) Regulations 2010, place obligations upon persons storing more than 200 litres of oil to provide secure containment facilities for tanks, drums, Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) and mobile bowsers in order to prevent oil escaping into the environment.
The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 and the equivalent Northern Ireland regulation, the Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011, places obligations on the Operator (Rathlin Energy) as part of its Duty of Care to manage the production and subsequent disposal of waste generated by the Operator (Rathlin Energy). Part 5 of the Regulation emphasizes the requirement to take all measures available to apply a waste hierarchy, which provides preference in order of priority to the prevention of waste, its re-use, recycle, energy recovery and disposal.