Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited (“Rathlin Energy”) has moral and statutory obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, 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 requires Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited to make arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the company’s health and safety arrangements. Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation requires Rathlin Energy (UK) 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 (UK) Limited 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 is applicable to onshore petroleum boreholes. Regulation 13 places general obligations upon the Well-Operator (Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited) to ensure that a well is designed, modified, commissioned, constructed, equipped, operated, maintained, suspended and abandoned that, in 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.
Regulation 18 places obligations upon the Well-Operator (Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited) 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 is specific to onshore drilling operations and sets out the obligations of the Operator (Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited). Within the regulations, Regulation 6 requires the Operator (Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited) 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 (UK) Limited) 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.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 places duties on the Duty Holders, which for clarity includes the Client (Rathlin Energy), Principle Designer, Principle Contractor, Contractors and Workers who are involved in the design and management of a construction project. In the context of petroleum exploration and development, such projects include wellsite construction and the construction or modification of production equipment therein.
Regulation 4 sets out the duties of the Client (Rathlin Energy) in relation to managing projects, including suitable arrangements (allocation of time and resources) to ensure the construction works can be carried out, so far as is reasonably practicable, without risk to the health or safety of any person affected by the project and that suitable welfare facilities are provided.
Regulation 5 sets out the duties of the Client to appoint a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor, where it is foreseeable that more than one contractor will be working on the project.
Regulation 6 places a duty on the Client to notify the enforcing authority, which in the case of site construction, is the Health and Safety Executive, before a notifiable construction project begins. A notifiable construction project is defined within the regulation and is based on duration and number of workers or number of person day.
In accordance with the Water Resources Act 1991, Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited 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 2016. 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, medium combustion plant permit when operating a combustion unit and the handling and storage of crude oil, 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 Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 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 places obligations on the Operator (Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited) as part of its Duty of Care to manage the production and subsequent disposal of waste generated by the Operator (Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited). 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.