The UK Oil and Gas Authority said Wednesday to would take a "blended approach" when it comes to the companies' compliance with oil and gas license timelines, in the wake of the pandemic.
The regulator had back in March 2020 said it would seek to ease the pressures on the industry by taking a pragmatic approach to compliance where it could, and that it would take a flexible approach to considering amendments to license timelines.
"As a result, the OGA engaged with many Operators/Licensees in a timely and evidence-based manner on specific licence requests, offering flexibility where possible. The OGA also deprioritized stewardship reviews, only holding such reviews with operators in relation to regulatory or materially significant matters," OGA said.
The OGA then committed to reviewing its approach "to ensure continued fitness for purpose given the dynamic nature of COVID-19’s impact on the oil & gas industry, and the wider economy. "
"The UK oil & gas industry responded well to the COVID-19 pandemic, and oil/gas price reductions at the time. In light of the industry developing practices and procedures to manage COVID-19, stabilization of commodity prices, and resulting stabilization of operators’ business plans, late in 2020 the OGA undertook a review of its approach. This review was concluded at the end of 2020," it explained.
"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," OGA said.
Explaining its blended approach, the OGA said that where supported with clear evidence, flexibility may still be available in relation to license timelines that are affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as the UK has only recently entered a new “lockdown” period.
"The OGA will continue to keep its approach to considering amendments to license timelines under review and would remind Operators/Licensees to approach the OGA early with regard to any request to amend a license timeline, and in compliance with the timelines specified in the licence," the regulator said.