The UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has decided to take “a blended approach” to licence management which should dampen the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic first affected the UK in early 2020 and is still having a significant impact. The OGA said in late March 2020 that it would seek to ease the pressures on the oil and gas industry by taking a pragmatic approach to compliance where it could.

To ensure fairness and consistency,
the OGA signalled at the time that it would take a flexible approach to
consider amendments to licence timelines.

As a result, the OGA engaged with many
operators and licensees on specific licence requests, offering flexibility
where possible. The Authority also deprioritised stewardship reviews, only
holding such reviews with operators concerning regulatory or materially
significant matters.  

The OGA stated that it “committed to reviewing this approach to ensure continued fitness for the purpose given the dynamic nature of COVID-19’s impact on the oil & gas industry, and the wider economy”. 

In light of the industry developing
practices and procedures to manage Covid-19, stabilisation of commodity prices,
and resulting stabilisation of operators’ business plans, the OGA undertook a
review of its approach in late 2020. This review was concluded at the end of the
year.

In the interests of ensuring that vital, time-critical, activity is maintained in the UKCS to safeguard both the energy supply we know is needed for the foreseeable future and the thousands of jobs which help deliver it, the OGA will now adopt a blended approach to licence management by incorporating what the OGA has learned during 2020 with the pre-COVID-19 OGA business as usual approach”, the Authority stated.

OGA said on Wednesday that, where
supported with clear evidence, flexibility might still be available to licence
timelines that were affected by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis as the UK has only
recently entered a new lockdown period.

It further stated that it would continue
to keep its approach to considering amendments to licence timelines under
review and would remind operators and licensees to approach the Authority early
about any request to amend a licence timeline, and in compliance with the
timelines specified in the licence.

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