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Preventive management of environmental risks: safety of marine oil rigs

Preventive management of environmental risks: safety of marine oil rigs

Type of text : Opinion
Type of referral : Own initiative
Working group : Section for Environment

Rapporteur(s) :

Jacques BEALL
Environment and Nature Group
Alain FERETTI
Union National des Associations Familiales (UNAF) Group
Date adopted : 13/03/2012 | Period : 2010-2015

The search for and exploitation of new fossil fuel resources is taking place against a backdrop of the progressive exhaustion of existing deposits. Despite the adoption of the international fight against global warming, demand for fuel continues to increase, counteracting the movement towards a more energy efficient society.
The increase in the share of offshore exploitation in global hydrocarbon production tends to offset the exhaustion of terrestrial reserves, thus constituting a major challenge for key players in the sector. Due to the economic potential it represents and the energy independence it creates, offshore exploitation is also a challenge for States which, like France, boast large maritime spaces, whose environmental riches have to be taken into account.
The exploitation of new reserves under economically viable conditions depends on the technologies available. The development of deep and ultra deep offshore deposits has required significant research and development efforts. Progress has been made in the management of the multiple risks inherent to this activity. The disaster of the Deepwater Horizon gave rise to in-depth analyses and the sharing of conclusions by professionals in the sector.
Despite safety rules on platforms, there have been a dozen major accidents since 1976, the causes of which are multiple, and the consequences of which are serious in both human and environmental terms.
However, the legal framework for these activities is incomplete, in International, European and domestic law, and often ambiguous. The French Mining Code, is under review. The organisation of disaster management strategies has been developed over time, and in different ways according to each country.
The opinion analyses how environmental risks are taken into account by the different players, and outlines possible changes to ensure better safety for offshore activities.