MEPs and Council negotiators reached a provisional deal on proposed legislation for the safety of offshore oil and gas operations

The European Parliament and the Council negotiators a political agreement on offshore legislation. Among the points agreed, the directive would require oil and gas firms to submit major hazard reports and emergency response plans and prove their ability to remedy any environmental damage caused, before could get a licence to drill. The European Parliament and Council are expected to formally approve the legislation in the coming months.

The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Commission's legislative proposal on the safety of oil and gas operations in the EU. Although the Commission's initial proposal referred to a "regulation" (which would be directly binding upon all member states), negotiators for Parliament and the Council agreed to recommend adopting a directive (which lays down ends, but leaves means to member states) instead, in order to avoid redrafting existing equivalent national laws. In September 2012, MEPs already stressed that the licence to drill should be linked to possibility of paying costs of any potential environmental damage.

Among the main points agreed under the provisional deal, all operators would need to ensure they have access to sufficient physical, human and financial resources to minimise and rectify the impact of a major accident. MEPs highlighted that no licence would be granted unless the applicant has provided evidence that adequate provision has been or will be made to cover liabilities potentially deriving from its offshore oil and gas operations.

Once the European Parliament and the Council give their formal approval, member states would have two years to transpose the directive into their national laws. EU countries with offshore waters that have no offshore oil and gas operations under their jurisdiction, and landlocked countries with companies registered in their territories would need to apply only a limited number of this directive's provisions.