The Hidden Deregulation of Britain's Offshore Oil Industry
Since 1990, following Lord Cullen's public inquiry into the Piper-Alpha disaster, the oil industry has spent approximately 2.6 billion pounds on safety improvements. The operators have co-operated with governmental authorities in the design of a new regulatory regime, based on the principles of goal- setting and self-regulation. This paper attempts a preliminary assessment of this regulatory system on offshore safety. We review industry responses to successive tranches of regulation, emanating both from the HSE and the European Union, and explore the tensions which have arisen between regulator in regulated industry. Our statistical analysis indicates that there have been no significant improvements in offshore safety conditions following the establishment of the new regulatory regime; a situation which we attribute to the industry's policy of introducing an agenda of hidden deregulation into the post Piper-Alpha reconstruction of offshore regulation.
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