The new UK Conservative government has outlined its plans to establish the country’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) as an independent regulator, with powers designed to maximise recovery of resources from UK waters.
In the Queen’s speech, which she delivered on Wednesday (27 May), the government put forward proposals for an energy bill with which it aims to improve the UK’s energy security and increase domestic oil and gas production.
The bill will establish the OGA as a government company with responsibility for regulating the country’s oil and gas industry, and managing the country’s hydrocarbon assets. As part of this process, regulatory powers will be transferred to the OGA from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Certain functions relating to the environment will remain with the minister. The bill will also give the OGA access to company meetings, the ability to acquire certain data, and powers to resolve disputes and impose sanctions.
The bill also proposes giving local authorities planning powers over wind farm projects in England and Wales producing less than 50MW of energy; currently wind farms need approval from the Secretary of State.
Industry body, Oil & Gas UK welcomed the new bill. Chief executive, Deirdre Michie said, ‘We are at a critical stage in the history of UK offshore oil and gas development and bold steps need to be taken now to ensure strong activity continues into the future.’
The OGA was set up earlier this year on the recommendation of the Wood Review of the UK North Sea.