Questions and Answers

UK Fisheries Offshore Oil & Gas Legacy Trust Fund Limited

What is the FishSAFE Information Project?

The FishSAFE Information Project provides fishermen with positional information about offshore surface and subsea structures and infrastructure in connection with oil and gas activities in UK waters thereby enhancing their safety. The information is used by fishermen in their plotter systems and in the FishSAFE unit.

The Project has additional elements including development of the FishSAFE Companion App an interactive training and reference tool to be used on vessels and offshore, a study into the causes of fishing gear snagging on a pipeline span and development of a model to extend the information provided to cover assets in other European jurisdictions.

The Project is funded by FLTC Services Limited. Its costs and the costs of development, production and supply of the Fish SAFE Unit are supported by substantial grants awarded by the Scottish Ministers and the European Union thorough the European Fisheries Fund thereby investing in sustainable fisheries.

Who are Oil & Gas UK?

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.

Who are the SFF?

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.

Who are NFFO?

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.

What examples of co-operation have the oil and gas and fishing industry’s displayed in the past?

The offshore industry frequently engages fishermen through channels including Fisheries Liaison Officers.

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 the FishSafe unit, a dedicated plotter with an alarm which provides warning to fishermen when their vessels approach oil and gas related seabed infrastructure.

The oil and gas and fishing industries in the UK have worked together in developing the Oil & Gas UK Fishermen’s Un-attributable Debris Compensation Fund. This fund was established by Oil & Gas UK 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.

Why was U.K. Fisheries Offshore Oil and Gas Legacy Trust Fund Limited established?

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 oil and gas structures or infrastructure left in place following decommissioning or in existence now.

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.

What activities will the company or its subsidiary FLTC Services Limited carry out?

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 FishSAFE device.

What is the FishSafe unit?

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.

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.

How is FLTC be structured?

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).

Who are the company directors / chairperson / management Team?

Oil & Gas UK Director Appointments: John Skipper
Graham Elgie
SFF Appointments: Director: Bertie Armstrong
NFFO Appointments: Director: Alan Piggott
Executive Chairman of the Board: Niall Scott
BEIS appointed Observer: Mrs. Wendy Kennedy
Company Secretary: Derek Duthie
Technical Committee Chairman: Niall Scott
Investment Committee Chairman: Niall Scott

Where will the company receive its income/funding?

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.

The Scottish Ministers and the European Union through the European Fisheries Fund have awarded substantial grants to FLTC Services Limited to support the FishSafe Information Project and development, production and supply of the FishSafe unit thereby investing in sustainable fisheries.

Won’t all installations be removed at the time of decommissioning?

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.

Which concrete installations/large steel footings are to be left in place?

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.

Four installations have already received BEIS approval for decommissioning programmes with derogation from OSPAR 98/3. They are NW Hutton (large steel footings), and the Miller Platform operated by BP,Frigg MCP01 (concrete structure), operated by Total and the Murchison Platform operated by CNR International.

Fishing Safely in Changing European Waters 2016 – 2019

Provision of FishSAFE Information forms part of this project which will enhance the safety of fishermen, reduce the risk of damage to fishing vessels and the risk of harm to the environment. The European Union and the Scottish Government have awarded grants to support the project.
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