Questions and Answers
UK Fisheries Offshore Oil & Gas Legacy Trust Fund Limited
Oil and Gas UK (previously UKOOA) is the leading representative organisation for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Its members are companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in UK waters and those who form any part of the industry's supply chain. Its mission is to strengthen the long term health of the UK offshore oil and gas industry by working co-operatively across industry, with government, regulators and all other stakeholders.
The Scottish Fishermen`s Federation is a group of member associations representing the fishing industry throughout Scotland. It was formed in 1973 to preserve and promote the collective interests of Fishermen's Associations. The Federation plays an active role in advancing the interests of Scottish fishermen at national and international levels by lobby government officials in Edinburgh, London and Brussels. The Federation also plays an important role in helping to inform: fisheries science; marine environment management; inshore fisheries management; marine safety regulations; and industry training/recruitment programmes.
The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations is the representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The NFFO was established in 1977 during the negotiations for the 1983 Common Fisheries Policy agreement. The paramount importance of being able to speak with a single industry voice has remained the defining feature of the NFFO's existence. It's mission is to contribute to and advance EU and National Fisheries Policy to ensure a profitable, viable and sustainable fishing industry.
The offshore industry frequently engages fishermen as Fisheries Liaison Representatives.
Fishing vessels may be contracted during oil and gas industry operations to act as guard vessels for protecting oil & gas related infrastructure during periods of installation or construction. Similarly, fishing vessels are engaged for conducting trawl sweeps at various locations to verify the area is clear of any residual oil related material.
Also, oil and gas related infrastructure on the seabed can present a potential snagging hazard to fishermen. For many years, fishermen in the UK and Europe have been provided with detailed co-ordinates of each suspended well via the bi-annual "Kingfisher Yellow Card", with updates published every two weeks in the Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletin.
To further enhance navigational safety for fishermen, the UK oil and gas industry has contributed significant funding towards a seabed information service that provides up-to-date electronic mapping of oil and gas subsea and surface infrastructure in UK waters together with the dissemination of this data to all fishermen.
In 1999, the use of digitised seabed data was advanced through the development of FishSafe, a dedicated plotter with an alarm which provides warning to fishermen when their vessels approach oil and gas related seabed infrastructure. FishSafe was developed by Fugro and funded through Oil & Gas UK and the EU.
The oil and gas and fishing industries in the UK have worked together in developing the Oil & Gas UK Fishermen's Compensation Fund. This fund was established by Oil & Gas UK (then UKOOA) in 1975 following representation from the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) to address the issue of unattributable debris from oil and gas related activity in UKCS.
The purpose of the Fund is to provide a means of redress to UK skippers who have suffered loss or damage to fishing gear caused by UKCS oil-related debris where the operator responsible cannot be established. Where the damage can be attributed to a specific operator, claims are pursued directly with that operator but if unsuccessful, an application may then be made to the Fishermen's Compensation Fund for consideration.
The Company was established to be a credible entity that promotes and enhances the safety of fishermen in UK waters by providing information and managing inter-industry issues into the long-term.
The primary objects of the Company are to promote and enhance safety of mariners by taking steps to reduce the risk of loss of life or injury to people, or damage to property, by reason of debris left in place following decommissioning of oil related materials.
In so far as there remains any surpluses not required for those primary objects, as may be determined by the Board from time to time, secondary objects including the advancement and support of safety initiatives, education, science and environmental protection by funding or otherwise supporting or assisting studies, may be pursued by the Company.
The Company or FLTCS will collect and manage funds provided by the oil & gas industry at the time of decommissioning to manage the implications arising from any structures or pipelines left on the seabed upon completion of the DECC approved decommissioning programme. These funds and initial support monies from Oil & Gas UK are be used for the following activities:
- Promote maintenance of the database of seabed objects and ensure communication of this information to on-board fishing vessel plotters
- Consider how to maintain information on decommissioned residues over the longterm, including the monitoring of sites
- Promote activities that support the safety of fishermen in UK waters and enhance UK fisheries/fishing activity
- Engage in actions to address inter-industry issues, especially those concerned with environmental or health & safety aspects of marine operations, including operational guidelines, sustainable fishing methods and practical responses to government concerns.
- Procure supply of the new FishSAFE device.
FishSafe is a hands-free device, normally fitted to fishing vessels, which uses a combination of visible and audible warnings to indicate that there may be a risk to fishing operations due to the proximity of offshore subsea infrastructure. Developed with FIFG funding in 1998, the original FishSafe is nearing the end of its useful life, and the availability of spares is seriously in question. Therefore the maintenance of FishSAFE Mk1 is becoming extremely difficult and its operation will become untenable in the near future.
The original FishSafe was manufactured as a purpose built unit, and as such was extremely costly to develop. The small production run of 400 units, combined with high tooling-up costs resulted in FishSAFE being a relatively expensive unit. The successor to FishSafe, F will introduce several new features to a technologically upgraded hardware system already on the market. This hardware will require a software conversion to allow the relevant data and alarming systems to function.
What are examples of the types of project which could qualify for consideration under secondary objects?
- Funding independent fisheries scientific research into fish stocks, including environmental impacts on stocks and other matters that relate to fisheries
- Support and research into improving the efficiency of the fishery as well as promoting research into more environmentally friendly and sustainable fishery and fishing methods
- Support for industry economic research and modelling
- Restocking the fishery e.g. shellfish and fish seeding and enhancement projects
- Research into seabed mapping
- Support for fishing industry safety initiatives such as:
- Support for purchase of safety equipment for fishing vessels
- Support for more advanced sea survival training for fishermen thereby enhancing standards throughout.
- Support for generic campaigns to promote and enhance safety awareness of fishermen and vessels, particularly in relation to decommissioned structures being left in situ.
The Company is a not-for-profit charitable company, limited by guarantee, the Founding Members of which are the fishing and oil & gas industry associations (Oil & Gas UK, SFF & NFFO), in which each industry has an equal weight in Company decision making.
Each Founding Member is entitled to appoint a Director (2 for Oil & Gas UK). The Board of Directors shall control the running and actions of the Company. The Board will allow each Founding Member to nominate one observer to attend Board meetings, but not vote. An independent chairman of the Board shall be appointed (and may be removed) by the Directors. The DECC will also be invited to provide a non-voting observer of Board proceedings.
Company officers will be employed to manage the ongoing requirements of the Company, as required and determined by the Directors. Two committees, appointed by and reporting back to Directors, will be formed to manage existing schemes for seabed data (Technical Committee) and to manage endowment fund investments (Investment Committee).
Oil & Gas UK Director Appointments: Mr John Skipper
Mr Iain McCombie
SFF Appointments: Director: Mr Alex West
Observer: Mr Michael Sutherland
NFFO Appointments: Director: Mr Fred Normandale
Observer: Mr David Bevan
Executive Chairman of the Board: Mr Niall Scott
DECC appointed Observer: Mrs. Wendy Kennedy
Company Secretary: Mr Paul Dymond
Technical Committee Chairman: Mr Michael Sutherland
Investment Committee Chairman: Mr Niall Scott
Operating companies will be encouraged and are expected to make a contribution to the endowment fund in respect of the individual assets (co-ordinating the input from the decommissioning joint venture); the investment revenue of which will cover the costs of the Company's activities. The intent is to be consistent for all installations/pipelines i.e. the amount contributed would be constant, in real terms, adjusted from the quoted number in line with RPI. Once the payment is made the Company will not approach that co-venture group for a further contribution for the same Legacy Issue.
As well as these one-off contributions to the endowment fund, there will also need to be an ongoing contribution from Oil & Gas UK to the Company in support of activities. At some point after the fund has been established and is sustainable, this annual contribution will no longer be needed as income generated by the fund will cover expenditure needs.
There are EU structural funds which might be available for the continuation & extension of the information scheme. This was available at the time of establishing the KIS-UK project, secured through the Aberdeenshire Council (on behalf of the fishing organisations) and Scotland Europa. It is important for the Company to investigate the availability, terms and constraints of this funding before the end of the first operating year and to gain commitment, so that they can be included in the Company Plan.
The Scottish Executive, currently fund Sea Fish Industries directly for the Yellow Card and Fortnightly Bulletin. It is appropriate that this activity is co-ordinated through the Company and, when existing contracts are revised, provide funding for a continuation or replacement scheme. Arrangements for any SEERAD sponsorship moving to the Company should also be determined within the first operating year of the Company.
At the first Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission (Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic) in 1998, a binding Decision was agreed which set the rules to be applied to the disposal of offshore installations at sea. Under the Decision, there is a prohibition on the dumping and leaving wholly or partly in place of offshore installations.
The Decision recognises that there may be difficulty in removing the 'footings' of large steel jackets weighing more than 10,000 tonnes and in removing concrete installations. As a result there are derogations for these categories of installations if the internationally agreed assessment and consultation process shows that leaving these in place is justifiable.
There are 41 structures and over 5000km of pipelines which may be candidates for leaving in place following cessation of production. Of these structures, 10 are concrete structures and 31 are large steel. Operators for each structure will decide whether to apply for a derogation or to remove the structure completely. With ever advancing technology, the safe removal of these structures may become more viable.
Two installations have already received DBERR (formerly DTI) approval for decommissioning programmes with derogation from OSPAR 98/3. They are NW Hutton (large steel footings), operated by BP, which will complete between summer 2007 and 2009, and Frigg MCP01 (concrete structure), operated by Total.