HC Deb 30 April 1975 vol 891 cc149-50W
Mr. Welsh

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many platforms may fail to reach the standard required by Off-shore Installation (Construction and Survey) Regulations; of these how many are in (a) the Scottish and (b) the English sector of the North Sea; and what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take to avoid the dangers to safety and personnel and the risk of well blowouts which might follow from nonobservance of the regulations.

Mr. John Smith

From 31st August 1975 all platforms will require a certificate of fitness.

In Scottish jurisdiction waters all fixed platforms have been built with knowledge of the standards of the Offshore Installation (Construction and Survey) Regulations and no certification problems are expected. Some 20 existing fixed platforms in English jurisdiction waters were built before the regulations had been published. The certifying authorities are completing their surveys of these platforms. Modifications to the structures may be required, or constraints on their continued use imposed in their certification.

No problems are anticipated over the certification of mobile installations of recent construction. The 11 older mobile installations will be subject to the same consideration as the existing fixed platforms mentioned above.

All production wells on platforms are equipped with automatic subsurface safety valves to prevent blowouts. The presence of these valves and the periodic checks carried out on their effectiveness are verified by the Department.

Blowout control on drilling operations is affected by two means. Approval of the drilling programme has to be obtained from my right hon. Friend, and adherence to it monitored by the Department. Also, the Department verifies that blowout preventor drills and equipment checks are regularly carried out.