Offshore Activities in the Mediterranean
The context of offshore activities in the Mediterranean region
A variety of offshore activities take place in the Mediterranean including oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Such offshore activities may have devastating effects on marine ecosystems. An oil spill arising from an accident of an offshore gas or oil installation may have long-term devastating effects on the marine environment as well as on the region’s economic and social development (e.g. increasing unemployment among fishermen). The effects of an oil spill in the Mediterranean could be direct, severe and almost irreversible due to its semi-closed configuration and the significant seismic activity in the region.
The potential of a severe accident is high in the region given the increasing number of offshore exploitation and exploration installations in the Mediterranean. This increase is mostly due to the significant hydrocarbon reservoirs located along Italy’s Adriatic coast, the Greek Aegean Sea, in the Gulf of Gabes close to the coasts of Tunisia and in the Mediterranean shelf off coasts of Libya and Egypt.
Following the accident of the Gulf of Mexico and the subsequent moratorium introduced by the US on deep-water drilling, several companies moved their rigs from Mexico to the Mediterranean (i.e. Tunisian, Italian, Libyan coasts). In order to reduce the risks of major accidents and their potential consequences on the Mediterranean countries regulatory solutions have been developed both at regional and at EU level.
Study on the synergies between the forthcoming EU Regulation and the Protocol to the Barcelona Convention.
The overall objective of this study is to provide a comparative analysis of the Offshore Protocol with the draft Regulation. Additional requirements and goals stemming from the Protocol need to be identified and compared to what will be required of EU Member States or operators through the draft Regulation (and to what is already in place through the aquis). The study will also suggest options for the cost-effective fulfilment of the obligations arising from both legal texts. Here, particular attention is needed to provisions under the two regulatory frameworks setting the framework for follow-up activities, as well as suggestions on how to articulate such developments in a coherent manner. This includes identifying cases where follow-up developments inside the EU as a consequence of the Regulation could benefit future activities planned in the Barcelona framework, as a means for enhanced coherence, and vice versa. The Commission (DG Environment) will organise a workshop on the practical implementation of these two legal documents in November 2012. The study will also provide an overview of current and prospective offshore activities in the Mediterranean. In addition, it will examine the possibilities of implementing some of the requirements of the Offshore Protocol in cooperation with EMSA and describe any synergies with activities carried out, or planned, by REMPEC in relation to offshore activities.