The Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation Convention(OPRC)) Regulations 1998 (SI 1988 No.1056) (as amended) state that certain UK ports, harbours and oil-handling facilities and all offshore installations on the UK Continental Shelf must submit OPRC Plans to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) (in the case of ports, harbours and oil handling facilities) or the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) (in the case of offshore installations, as defined in the Regulation) for approval.
As part of the approvals process for ports, harbours and oil handling facilities to which the Regulations apply, the MCA require contingency plans to detail the contract they hold with an accredited third-party Tier 2 Oil Spill Response Organisation (OSRO). OPRED similarly require responsible persons of offshore installations to detail in Oil Pollution Emergency Plans (OPEPs) any arrangements in place with an OSRO.
Following a consultation with industry on the creation of a UK National Standard for OSROs, carried out between January and March 2018, a final version has been published. The Standard will remain a living document, evolving with the requirements of industry and new best practice guidance, but any new amendments will be based on further dialogue and consultation between the appropriate government departments and agencies, approved Accrediting Bodies and the OSRO industry.
The amendment to the OPRC Guidelines for Ports and the Guidance Notes for Preparing Oil Pollution Emergency Plans which will enforce the requirement for ports, harbours, terminals and offshore installations with a statutory obligation to be OPRC compliant, to fulfil their Tier 2 response service requirements only by contracting OSROs which are accredited in line with the UK National Standard, has been postponed to the 1st of November 2018. This additional delay was to allow time for the approved accrediting bodies to finalise their schemes of accreditation and for Memorandums of Agreement with the MCA and OPRED for the delivery of this service to be agreed and signed; it was decided that it would be unreasonable to begin the one-year grace period prior to there being an approved scheme in operation. The one-year grace period will now be in effect from the 1st November 2018 until the 31st October 2019. Due to two schemes of accreditation having now received approval, the International Spill Accreditation Scheme (ISAS) and the Nautical Institute (NI), the start of the one-year grace period will not be delayed any further.
During the grace period OSROs accredited under one of the previous schemes (delivered by UK Spill and the International Spill Accreditation Association) will still be recognised by the MCA and OPRED in their review of OPRC plans and OPEPs (respectively) for the purpose of fulfilling the requirement for Tier 2 service provision. Before the end of the grace period OSROs are expected to seek re-accreditation in accordance with the UK National Standard from an accrediting body whose scheme of accreditation has been approved by the MCA and OPRED (currently ISAS and the NI). From the 1st November 2019, OSROs which have not been re-accredited in accordance with the UK National Standard will no longer be recognised by the MCA and OPRED as fulfilling the requirement for Tier 2 service provision for ports, harbours, terminals and offshore installations.
Ports, harbours, terminals and offshore installations whose contingency plans have been reviewed during the grace period and where, during these reviews, the Tier 2 service provision outlined is found not to be accredited in line with the UK National Standard, will have their contingency plans re-assessed upon the conclusion of the grace period. The re-assessment will establish if the port, harbour, terminal or offshore installation’s contractor has gained accreditation in line with the UK National Standard or if the port, harbour, terminal or offshore installation has taken on an alternative Tier 2 contractor which has gained the necessary accreditation. If neither of these have taken place, then the port, harbour, terminal or offshore installation will be issued with a Non-Conformity Notice.
The MCA and OPRED will now be accepting applications from Accrediting Bodies wishing to be approved to deliver the UK Standard. Details on the requirements for provision can be found in the final UK Standard document. Proposed schemes of accreditation, detailing how the requirements have been fulfilled should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Counter Pollution and Salvage Branch
105 Commercial Road
Follow up meetings will be held after review of the proposed scheme by the MCA, at which point a Memorandum of Agreement for the delivery of this accreditation service on behalf of the MCA and OPRED will be signed. The version of the UK Standard published here is Version 1.
Any questions can be submitted to: email@example.com
For details on which ports and harbours the OPRC Regulations apply to, see: The Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation Convention) Regulations 1998, Regulation 3: Application