This paper contributes to understanding health, safety and environmental (HSE) regulation and performance in the offshore oil and gas industry. The United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) is used to explain how both safety investments by oil companies and regulatory initiatives can collectively contribute to enhancing standards, thereby reducing total accident and incident costs. We apply theoretical and analytical dimensions: firstly, by characterising an economic approach for evaluating HSE investments, and secondly, undertaking comparative statistical analysis of UKCS safety performance. Our findings indicate that the cost-benefit approach has been beneficial for evaluating HSE investment decisions to meet stricter regulatory compliance standards. Regarding the comparative analysis, we find that there has been a considerable improvement in safety in the UKCS over the past two decades, indicated by declining hydrocarbon releases (safety indicator) and declining injury rates (health indicator). Nonetheless, while produced water discharges (environment indicator) have also declined, the data also shows that the frequency of oil spill incidents have increased by 62% compared to 2002 baseline levels. This is partly explained by several recent unplanned shutdowns, especially between 2013 and 2016, and consequent reductions in production efficiency due to ageing infrastructure. Overall, the findings suggest that fair, effective, and participatory regulatory regimes can ensure a collective drive by all stakeholders towards improving industry safety performance and promote a better safety environment.
- Hydrocarbon releases
- Cost-benefit analysis