The new UK Energy Act has now been passed into law to formally establish the oil and gas energy regulator – as recommended in the Wood Review into the North Sea sector – in order to maximise collaboration and management of resources from the UK continental shelf.
It formally establishes the framework for the OGA as an independent regulator, taking the form of a government company, so that it can act with greater flexibility and independence. It gives the OGA new powers including: access to external meetings; data acquisition and retention; dispute resolution; and sanctions.
It also enables the transfer of the Secretary of State’s existing regulatory powers in respect of oil and gas to the OGA. The Secretary of State’s environmental regulatory functions in relation to oil and gas are not transferred to the OGA.
It enables more comprehensive charging of the offshore oil and gas industry in relation to environmental regulatory functions carried out by DECC.
Makes local communities the primary decision makers on new onshore wind developments, alongside measures taken by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It removes the need for the Secretary of State’s consent for large onshore wind farms (over 50 megawatt) in England and Wales under the Electricity Act 1989 (England-only)
It also brings forward the early closure of the Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme to new onshore wind developments in Great Britain.
UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd said: “By strengthening the Oil and Gas Authority and giving it powers to drive greater collaboration and efficiency in the industry, this Act shows that the broad shoulders of the UK are committed to helping our oil and gas industry attract investment, support jobs and remain competitive for the future.
Andy Samuel, Chief Executive, OGA, added: “Now that the Energy Bill has received Royal Assent, this is an important step in establishing the OGA as an independent government company with the necessary powers, working closely with the industry and government to help maximise the economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources.”
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