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New Inquiry: UK Deepwater Drilling – implications of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

23 July 2010

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The Energy and Climate Change Committee has issued a call for written evidence for its forthcoming short inquiry into UK Deepwater Drilling – implications of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

On the 20th April an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig –operated by Transocean in the Gulf of Mexico, under contract to BP – led to the deaths of eleven workers and an oil leak at an unprecedented depth. The full extent of the environmental impact and the effect on communities is not yet known.

In light of the incident, DECC conducted a review of the existing safety and environmental regulatory regimes and found them to be “fit for purpose”, but announced that annual inspections of drilling rigs were to double and insurance requirements were to be reviewed. The US has currently suspended all deepwater drilling until the leak is under control and factors leading to the incident have been identified, a position also adopted by Norway, while the European Energy Minister has urged EU national governments to ban any new drilling temporarily.

The Committee wants to find out about the safety and environmental regulations of oil and gas operations on the UK continental shelf – especially in the deepwater to the west of the Shetlands – and the potential positive and negative impacts of a moratorium on deepwater drilling. Respondents are free to comment on any issues they consider relevant, although the Committee particularly welcomes evidence addressing the effectiveness (or otherwise) of:

  • What are the implications of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for deepwater drilling in UK?
  • To what extent is the existing UK safety and environmental regulatory regime fit for purpose?
  • What are the hazards and risks of deepwater drilling to the west of Shetland?
  • Is deepwater oil and gas production necessary during the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy?
  • To what extent would deepwater oil and gas resources contribute to the UK’s security of supply?

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Monday 13 September 2010.


Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format-not PDF format-and sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Clerk, Energy and Climate Change Committee, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA. The deadline is Monday 13 September 2010.

As a guideline submissions should be no longer than 3000 words. However, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this matter. Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


Committee Membership is as follows:

Mr Tim Yeo MP, Conservative, South Suffolk
Dan Byles MP, Conservative, North Warwickshire
Gemma Doyle MP, Labour/Co-operative, West Dunbartonshire
Tom Greatrex MP, Labour, Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Dr Philip Lee MP, Conservative, Bracknell
Albert Owen MP, Labour, Ynys Môn
Christopher Pincher MP, Conservative, Tamworth
John Robertson MP, Labour, Glasgow North West
Laura Sandys MP, Conservative, South Thanet
Sir Robert Smith MP, Liberal Democrat, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Labour, Southampton Test

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