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Safety of offshore oil and gas operations

There are over 300 oil and gas offshore installations in the EU, which contribute to ensuring a secure energy supply.

EU-wide safety standards

Under the Directive on Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations (2013/30/EU), the EU put in place a set of rules to help prevent accidents, as well as respond promptly and efficiently should one occur.

Before offshore gas or oil exploration or production begins, companies must prepare a "Report on Major Hazards" for their offshore installation. It must contain a risk assessment and an emergency response plan and companies must keep resources at hand in order to put them into operation when necessary.

When granting licenses, EU countries must ensure that companies are well-financed and have the necessary technical expertise and technical solutions, to ensure the safety of installations. This must be independently verified and done prior to the installation going into operation.

The directive also requires that national authorities verify safety provisions, environmental protection measures and the emergency preparedness of rigs and platforms. If companies do not respect the minimum standards, EU countries can impose sanctions, including halting production.

Information on how companies and EU countries keep installations safe must be made available to citizens and companies will be fully liable for environmental damages caused to protected marine species and natural habitats. For damage to marine habitats, the geographical zone will cover all EU marine waters, including exclusive economic zones and continental shelves.

Citizens can express opinions and comments on the environmental effects of planned offshore oil and gas exploration operations and must be duly informed by the authorities of their respective EU country.

Evaluation of the directive 

In 2020 the Commission provided a report assessing the implementation of the directive, along with a staff working document with additional background information.

Liability for damage from offshore accidents

In 2015, the European Commission published a report and staff working document (SWD/2015/167) on liability and compensation in the case of offshore accidents in Europe. These documents look at how bodily injury, property damage and economic losses are handled, as well as the financial security instruments that would cover such damage. They build on the findings of a study published in 2014.

EU Offshore Oil and Gas Authorities Group 

The competent authorities of EU countries work together through the European Union Offshore Oil and Gas Authorities Group (EUOAG) to share best practices and improve standards. The group is chaired by the European Commission and promotes best practices and high safety standards for offshore oil and gas operations worldwide.

EUOAG web page 

To further promote offshore safety, the Commission works with its international partners on the implementation of the highest safety standards worldwide.

Offshore safety of oil and gas operations annual reports

Since 2016, the Commission publishes annual reports on the safety of EU offshore oil and gas operations, the latest of which covers 2021.


13 OCTOBER 2014
Guidance Document on Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No.1112/2014