UK looking to “name and shame” offshore oil companies that cause environmental damage

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September 7, 2011

ABERDEEN, Scotland (Dow Jones)–The organization tasked with policing safety on U.K. North Sea oil and gas installations said Wednesday it is prepared to change the way it publishes information on leaks and other incidents, amid criticism of a lack of transparency around Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s (RDSA) recent spill at the Gannet Alpha platform.

“There has been pressure on us to be more transparent, there is more expected on this,” said Steve Walker, head of the Health and Safety Executive’s offshore division. “We could do it in a more attributable way.”

Walker said the HSE could by next year release more detailed information identifying companies responsible for safety and environmental breaches.

“There is now a drive for us to actually release that data [and say] ‘here is a hydrocarbon release by so and so on such a such a such date,'” said Walker.

Under the current system, interested parties have request data under the Freedom of Information Act, which allows citizens to obtain sensitive documents held by public service organizations.

However, criticism has mounted in recent weeks following an undersea pipeline leak at a Shell platform and the subsequent release of crude oil into the North Sea, the U.K.’s biggest spill in a decade. HSE data obtained under the Act showed the company to be among the worst offenders when it came to recent hydrocarbon releases.

Walker said any move to “name and shame” negligent operators would have to be done in accord with the industry.

“We are in discussions with Oil and Gas UK, because it is a sensitive issue, and if we are going to chance it we need to get the views of the industry, and I think they are pretty supportive of that,” said Walker.

-By Alexis Flynn, Dow Jones Newswires

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