Detailed guide: Oil and gas: legislation on emissions and releases


REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008

The EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restrictions of Chemicals) Regulation 1907/2006, which entered into force on 1 June 2007, required the registration of chemical substances by specified deadlines (in 2010, 2013 and 2018) based on tonnage levels and the properties/toxicity of certain substances (i.e. PBTs, vPvBs and CMRs). Management of the REACH system at EU level is handled by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 enforce the provisions of the EU REACH Regulation. The UK regulations apply to the following offshore installations within the UK territorial sea and UKCS:

  • fixed and floating platforms
  • floating production storage and off-loading systems
  • floating storage units
  • non-production installations

OPRED regulates the use/discharge of chemicals under the Offshore Chemicals Regulations (OCR) 2002, which were amended by the Offshore Chemical (Amendment) Regulations 2011 to cover all operational discharges and non-operational releases of offshore chemicals.

The Energy Act 2008 (Consequential Modifications) (Offshore Environmental Protection) Order 2010 applies the requirements of the UK REACH Enforcement Regulations and OCR to offshore installations involved in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and gas unloading/storage activities.

From an offshore environmental protection perspective, the OSPAR Hazardous Material Control System (HMCS) and REACH requirements run in parallel, with the HMCS approach to controlling offshore chemicals appropriately harmonised with the provisions of the EU Regulation. Accordingly, the UK REACH Enforcement Regulations contain certain provisions from the OCR, so effectively the OCR (and hence HMCS) are the mechanism for supporting the application of environmental protection elements of REACH to offshore installations.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK Competent Authority for REACH. It works closely with the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and other government departments, including OPREDBEIS, and agencies on policy and enforcement.

To ensure a consistent regime, offshore enforcement of REACH is the responsibility of the bodies familiar with enforcement requirements in similar circumstances. HSE and OPRED enforce offshore health/safety and environmental protection using their respective onshore administrative procedures and offshore inspectors to check compliance. In this regard, OPRED sits on the UK REACH Enforcement Liaison Group to ensure a proportionate and consistent method of enforcement is adopted through an agreed Memorandum of Understanding.

Note: OPRED’s regulatory regime for offshore chemicals does not extend to Scottish-controlled waters. Within this area, REACH is enforced by Marine Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.



Queries on the application of REACH should, in the first instance, be directed to the HSE helpdesk at However, queries on OPRED’s offshore enforcement role can be sent to

Other Useful Information

The Control of Mercury (Enforcement) Regulations 2017

EU Regulation 2017/852 was adopted by Member States on 17 May 2017 to enable ratification of the United Nations’ Minamata Convention on Mercury.

As an EU Regulation its provisions are directly applicable in UK law by The Control of Mercury (Enforcement) Regulations 2017 and apply (as appropriate) to all offshore installations that carry out activities such as oil and gas production, and gas and carbon dioxide unloading/storage.

It is important to note that OPRED is not the competent authority for these Regulations for offshore oil and gas installations however OPRED may provide assistance to the competent authorities (Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency). This assistance will include seeking information from installation operators relating to mercury waste generated on offshore installations and, if requested by the competent authorities, inspect offshore installations to investigate any alleged contraventions of the Regulations.

The information available on this website only provides guidance on the provisions of the Regulations where OPRED provides assistance to competent authorities specific to the offshore oil and gas industry. Readers should consult the relevant competent authorities (SEPA and EA) websites for additional information such as the competent authorities approach to enforcement and offences.



Other Useful Information

Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015

The F-Gases Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 aims to protect the environment by reducing emissions of F-Gases (i.e. hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)) from refrigeration, air conditioning units, high voltage switchgear, heat pumps and fire-protection systems, through the establishment of rules on, amongst other things, the containment, use, recovery and destruction of F-Gases.

Some of the various Implementing Acts which were established pursuant to the F-Gases Regulation (EC) No. 842/2006 have subsequently been replaced by new delegated or implementing acts adopted by the Commission in accordance with Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014. Any implementing acts which have not been replaced will remain in force and continue to apply unless and until repealed by new delegated or implementing acts adopted by the Commission pursuant to Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014. The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015 (SI 2015 / 310) as amended by the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018 / 98) and The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 (SI 2015 / 425) as amended by the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018 (SI 2018 / 206) came into force in 2018.

The 2015 Regulations revoke and remake with amendments the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009 which enforced the F-Gases Regulation (EC) No. 842/2006, so as to provide powers for authorised persons to enforce the F-Gases Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014. The 2015 Regulations prescribe the offences / penalties for non-compliance with the legislative requirements and designate certification and training bodies. The 2018 Regulations give the regulatory bodies powers to issue civil penalties.

OPRED has produced a guidance document for the offshore oil and gas industry on the obligations of the F-Gases Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 which can be accessed below. This guidance document is currently under review and will be updated to include the 2018 Regulations.

F-Gas Guidance Oct 2016 (PDF, 218KB, 23 pages)

The form in the above guidance document for the reporting of any releases of F-gases greater than or equal to 250 tonnes of CO2/e (as per the relevant section of the guidance) is available in editable format below.

Reporting form for the EU F-gases (MS Word Document, 59.7KB)

Defra has also published detailed information sheets on the EU F-Gas Regulation and F gas: guidance for users, producers and traders

Ozone-Depleting Substances Regulations 2015

The Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) Regulation (EC) No. 1005/2009 - has applied since 1 January 2010 and recasts/repeals ODS Regulation (EC) No. 2037/2000 - prohibits and controls the production and use of ozone depleting substances thereby reducing atmospheric emissions of these substances in line with the Montreal Protocol (an international agreement to combat the threat of damage posed to the ozone layer by ozone depleting substances). In particular, the EU ODS Regulation concerns the control of emissions from refrigeration systems, air-conditioning units, fire-protection systems and heat pumps.

In September 2010, Commission Regulation (EU) No. 744/2010 which replaces Annex VI to the EU ODS Regulation entered into force. Regulation (EU) No. 744/2010 sets out the permitted critical uses of halons as well as the timeframes for their phasing out. Under the revised Annex VI, for oil, gas and petro-chemical facilities the critical use exemptions for halons applied to new fire-protection systems (FPS) until 31 December 2010 and will apply to FPS that existed prior to 31 December 2010 until 31 December 2020. With regards to offshore installations, the exemption in respect to existing FPS relates to all occupied and unoccupied spaces where flammable liquid or gas could be released.

On 7 March 2015, the Ozone-Depleting Substances Regulations 2015 entered into force. The 2015 ODS Regulations prescribe the offences and penalties for non-compliance with the regulatory requirements. The 2015 ODS Regulations cover offshore installations involved in oil and gas, carbon capture and storage and gas unloading and storage activities. OPRED has produced a guidance document for the offshore oil and gas industry on the obligations of the EU ODS Regulations.

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The reporting forms in Annexes B, C and E of the above document are accessible below (in ‘Word’ format).

Financial responsibility guidance note for exploration and appraisal drilling in the UKCS - January 2013

Since the Gulf of Mexico incident in 2010 we have been reviewing the systems and processes in place with the aim of improving and strengthening procedures, including those demonstrating financial responsibility, with regard to exploration and production activity. One of the areas scrutinised was the financial capabilities of licensees following a blowout from drilling operations on the UKCS. Below is a letter sent to industry setting out the government position and guidance on how financial responsibility should be demonstrated.

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