HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 cc307-8W
Ms Ruddock

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list for each of the last five years(a) the number of releases of oil or chemicals from offshore installations on the United Kingdom continental shelf, (b) the substance released and the amount of oil or waste for each escape and (c) the name of the installation and the operator in each case. [31102]

Mr. Page

It is an offence under the Prevention of Oil Pollution Act 1971 to discharge oil or any mixture containing oil into the sea from a pipeline or in the course of petroleum exploration and production in the United Kingdom continental shelf if that discharge is not the subject of an exemption granted in accordance with section 23 of that Act. In practice the operators of installations on the UKCS obtain exemptions to permit operational discharges. These exemptions are limited in accordance with international standards and require the operator of the installation to report any discharge made in accordance with the exemption. The amount of oil discharged in accordance with these exemptions is published in summary form in volume 2 of the annual energy report, a copy of which is held in the Library of the House. The number of notifications make it impracticable to give this information otherwise than in summary form.

Companies licensed to carry out petroleum exploration and production on the UKCS are required by the terms of their licence to report to the Secretary of State any escapes of petroleum from the licensed area. A summary of oil spills reported to the Department of Trade and Industry is also published in volume 2 of the annual energy report. Again, the number of spills make it impractical to give details of each discharge.

The use of chemicals offshore is regulated by a notification scheme whereby licensees seek prior approval of the use of chemicals in exploration and production. Licensees are not required to report releases of chemicals from installations.