Well Intervention and Workovers

Key Legislation:

For more detail on the Legislation relevant to this page, please use the following links:

Supporting Legislation:
Guidance:
Consent Needed: Chemical Permit There is a requirement for the operator to obtain a permit to use and discharge workover chemicals.Oil Discharge PermitA permit will be required to cover the discharge or reinjection of any aqueous well work-over, intervention and service fluids contaminated with reservoir hydrocarbons (see OPPC Summary Table). On fixed installations where the normal procedure would be to route the fluids through the produced water process train, such discharges could be included in the schedule for the installation produced water discharges (see Produced water) or reinjection, otherwise a standalone Term Permit for the duration of the workover operation may be applied for.
How to Apply: Chemical Permit An application for the grant of a permit from BEIS under Regulation 4 is made by a PETS application.

  • Where well intervention, work-over or service operation are related to a drilling programme, application must be made using a Drilling Operation application (see Drilling Chemicals);
  • Where the operations are not related to a drilling programme, and will not involve a discharge of chemicals beyond the safety zone of a host discharging installation, application can be made using a Production Operation application (see Production Chemicals) or Well Intervention Operation application (these can be term permits or if related to a platform operations can be on an annual basis);
  • Application will be made using a Well Intervention Operation application where the well intervention or workover operation are not directly related to a drilling programme and will involve a discharge of chemicals beyond the 500 metre safety zone of a host discharging installation. This will normally include workover operations from a MODU, unless the MODU is located within the 500 metre safety zone of the host discharging installation or all discharges are mediated via the platform/FPSO.
  • Well Intervention Operation applications may be made for annual permits (e.g. for ongoing platform well interventions) or a term permit for the duration of the well intervention operation.

In addition, as part of ongoing reviews of oil spill contingency arrangements in light of the Macondo well incident, applications through a Well Intervention Operation application or Production Operation application for workover or well intervention operations must:

  • Confirm that the operation is covered by an approved OPEP or OPEP application.
  • Applications should additionally include an expanded section dealing with accidental events, summarising the mitigation measures in place to prevent any release of hydrocarbons and the worst-case release scenarios that have been identified in the OPEP, as well as confirming that potential environmental impacts associated with those scenarios have been assessed as part of the OPEP process and referencing the relevant documents.
  • Where approval of the OPEP is still outstanding at the time of permit application, it will also be necessary to submit an update or variation of the application to confirm when the OPEP is approved.
  • Additional changes may be required in the future, when DECC has reviewed outstanding reports relating to the Macondo incident.

Oil Discharge Permit

Applications for a permit under the OPPC Regulations must be made via the UK Oil Portal.

Guidance Notes on the OPPC Regulations and Permit Application are available for download from DECC.

Who to Apply to: Chemical Permit PETS applications must be submitted electronically to BEIS via the UK Oil Portal. Operators will need to be registered with BEIS for access to the Portal.To set up a UK Oil Portal Account, contact the BEIS OED Environmental Management Team at ukop@decc.gsi.gov.ukAny problems with PETS submission contact the BEIS OED EMT by email at emt@decc.gsi.gov.ukOil Discharge PermitFor Oil Discharge permits must be submitted electronically to BEIS via the UK Oil Portal.
When to Apply: Chemical Permit PETS applications must be made at least 28 days before workover or completion operation begins.Oil Discharge PermitApply for permit 28 days before discharge starts.

 

UK National Plan for the phase-out of substances identified as candidates for substitution – in line with OSPAR Recommendation 2006/3(The full text of the current UK National Plan for phase out can be found on the CEFAS website): OSPAR Recommendation 2006/3 requires that as soon as is practicable and no later than 1 January 2017, Contracting Parties to OSPAR should have phased out the discharge of offshore chemicals that are, or which contain substances, identified as candidates for substitution except for those chemicals where despite considerable efforts, it can be demonstrated that this is not feasible due to technical or safety reasons. Demonstration of those reasons should include a description of those efforts.Having considered the requirements of OSPAR Recommendation 2006/3, the UK has decided to base its National Plan for the prioritisation of phase-out on the following criteria:

  • Perceived difficulty of phase out.
  • Securing the replacement of candidates for substitution in preference to eliminating operational discharges to the marine environment.
  • Prioritisation based on the persistence, bioaccumlation and toxicological properties of the chemical.

The UK National Plan also incorporates justification of continued use and/or discharge as an additional element: for those substances where replacement and/or eliminating discharges to the marine environment is not currently feasible, offshore operators or their chemical suppliers will annually be required to:

  • Confirm the efforts made to phase out the use and/or discharge of the candidates for substitution.
  • Confirm the nature and timing of planned research and development studies or trials to supplement those efforts conform whether any measures have been taken to reduce the use and/or discharge of the candidate for substitution.
  • Confirm the technical and/or safety issues that make it necessary to continue use and/or discharge of the candidate for substitution.

UK National Plan level criteria and interim target dates are (See the full text of the UK National Plan (PDF document) on the CEFAS website for definitions of persistence, bioaccumulating and toxicity):

  • Level 1 (highest priority)
    • Organic substances that are highly persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic
    • Chemicals to be replaced; or discharges to the marine environment to be eliminated or continued use and/or discharge to be formally justified by end December 2010.
  • Level 2
    • Moderately persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic, or
    • Highly persistent and bioaccumulating, or
    • Highly persistent and toxic chemicals
    • To be replaced, or discharges to the marine environment eliminated, or continued use and/or discharge to be formally justified by end December 2012.
  • Level 3
    • Moderately persistent and bioaccumulating, or
    • Moderately persistent and toxic, or
    • Bioaccumulating and toxic chemicals
    • To be replaced, or discharges to the marine environment eliminated and/or discharge formally justified by end December 2014.
  • Level 4 (lowest priority)
    • Highly persistent organic substances, or
    • Inorganic substances with toxicity <1mg/l
    • Chemicals to be replaced, or discharges to the marine environment eliminated, or continued use and/or discharge to be formally justified by end December 2016.
EC Regulation 1907/2006 (REACH) REACH deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. At the same time, innovative capability and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry should be enhanced. The benefits of the REACH system will come gradually, as more and more substances are phased into REACH. The HSE is the UK Competent Authority for REACH and is working closely with Defra plus other Government departments and Agencies on the policy/enforcement aspects. HSE enforces maritime Health and Safety Regulations which apply to offshore installations. To ensure a consistent regime, the offshore enforcement of REACH will be carried out by those who are familiar with enforcement requirements in similar circumstances to that required by REACH. Therefore, HSE and BEIS will enforce offshore the aspects of REACH relating to health/safety and environmental protection, using their respective onshore administrative procedures and offshore inspectors to check compliance with the relevant provisions. In this regard, BEIS sits on the REACH Enforcement Liaison Group (established by the HSE) to ensure that a proportionate and consistent method of enforcement is adopted. From an offshore environmental protection perspective, the OSPAR HMCS and REACH requirements will run in parallel, with the HMCS approach to controlling offshore chemicals being appropriately harmonised with the provisions of the EU Regulation.Accordingly, the UK REACH Enforcement Regulations contain certain provisions from, and makes references to, the OCR so effectively OCR (and hence the HMCS) will be the mechanism for supporting the application of the environmental protection elements of REACH to offshore installations. It should, however, be noted that BEIS’s regulatory regime for offshore chemicals does not extend to Scottish controlled waters and therefore, in so far as this area is concerned, REACH will be enforced by an authorised body (i.e. SEPA) on behalf of the Scottish Executive.REACH provisions will be phased-in over 11 years.Appendix 1 of the DECC Guidance Notes on Reach (Word document) addresses Specific REACH issues pertaining to the offshore sector.A Timetable of REACH Implementation (Word document) is available on the BEIS Website.
Location of Oily Discharges  Discharges of reservoir hydrocarbons contaminated waters may only take place from those locations and at the depths specified in the schedule attached to the Oil Discharge permit.Limits Placed on Oily DischargesAn oil in water concentration of 30 mg/l for well workover discharges (see OPPC Sampling Summary Table – Wells ).Backloading of Oily SlopsOperations giving rise to “oil contaminated fluids” include well clean-up, cementing, mud pit cleaning and operations where well bore fluids become contaminated with oil based mud, crude oil or condensate. In addition, fluids from rig floor drains and other tank cleaning operations can also be included. Backloading of slops must meet the requirements of MCA and HSE Guidance Notes:

 

Oil Discharge Permit: The Oil Discharge permit schedule will detail the required sampling strategy. Analysis must be undertaken according to current DECC standards. The volume of well workover fluids discharged must be measured or calculated to +/- 10% uncertainty on volume. See OPPC Sampling Summary Table – Well Operations for a summary of sampling/calculation requirements.Persons undertaking oily water sampling and analysis shall be provided with sufficient information, instruction and training to undertake the task.
What to Report: Chemical Use and Discharge Reports should be made on all drilling and well chemicals as required by DECC electronically to the EEMS. Reports are made on the drilling chemicals and fluids spreadsheets available for download on the EEMS website.As well as being used by DECC to check actual use and discharge of chemicals against the term permit, they will also be used towards compilation of the OSPAR returns, which Contracting Parties are obliged to make.For certain problematic substances, such as those identified for substitution, the Department may require more frequent reporting. A condition in the permit will make this clear if necessary.

Annual Progress Reports on Substitution Chemicals

Previously progress reports on substitution chemicals have only been requested for production chemicals. This reporting requirement is now being extended to term permits. A reporting template can be downloaded from DECC (Excel document). Reporting includes summary of chemicals replaced, summary of chemicals still to be replaced and justification for continued use and/or discharge.

Oil Discharge Permit

The following information must be retained on the offshore installation for 2 years (see OPPC Sampling Summary Table – Well Operations), and made available to DECC on request. The following information must also be reported to DECC:

  • Date and time when each sample was collected
  • Results of the dispersed oil concentration in well intervention fluids for each sample in mg/l
  • The volume of well intervention fluid discharged between each sample
  • The total volume of well intervention fluids discharged
  • The total weight of dispersed oil in well intervention fluids discharged
  • The average concentration of oil within the well intervention fluids discharged

Arrangements must be in place to ensure the accuracy and correctness of records. Where records are maintained solely in electronic form, secure systems shall be provided so that all changes are recorded and the original entries are not deleted. Where hard copies only are maintained, the person in charge of the operation shall sign a true copy of the records for the time period over which they have responsibility.

Who to Report to:

Chemical Use and Discharge

Reports to be made to DECC via the EEMS Reporting System. An EEMS term permit form is to be used for reporting, which can be downloaded from the EEMS Website.

Annual Progress Reports on Substitution Chemicals

Reports need to be submitted to DECC Environmental Management Team by email to emt@decc.gsi.gov.uk

Oil Discharge Permit

Reports on oil discharges under the new OPPC Regulations must be made to DECC via the Inspectorate Data mailbox at inspectorate.data@decc.gsi.gov.uk

When to Report: Chemical Use and Discharge For a Term Permit reports must be submitted at least 28 days after the expiry date of the permit.For an Annual Permit (Annual well intervention operation permit) reports must be submitted at least 28 days after the expiry date of the permit, i.e. by 28 January each year (for the preceding year).For a Life Permit (Production permit) reports must be submitted quarterly.Annual Progress Reports on Substitution ChemicalsAnnual reports must be submitted by 30 May each year, for the previous year’s chemical use and discharge.Oil Discharge PermitOil in water reports must be submitted to DECC at the end of operation.
What to do if Limits Exceeded in Chemical Permit: The DECC Permit Condition non-compliance Notification Form (Word document) is to be used for reporting any identified non-compliances against Chemical Permit Conditions issued under the provisions of the Offshore Chemical Regulations 2002. Examples of these may include, but not be limited to: identified over use of chemicals; or use and/or identified discharge of un-permitted chemicals following an internal review against permit requirements. In addition the form may be used to notify DECC of any other applicable notifications specifically as required with the chemical permit conditions as appropriate.A spill of chemicals must be reported by PON1 (Word document). DECC will also undertake inspections as appropriate and have powers to issue directions (see Drilling Chemicals).
OPPC Regulations: If the concentration of dispersed oil in well workover fluids being discharged exceeds 30 mg/l, this must be reported to DECC using the OPPC non-compliance notification form, which can be downloaded from this link (Word document), along with appropriate Guidance Notes (Word document). Offences under the OPPC Regulations, include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Discharge of oil to sea without a valid and appropriate permit being in place
  • Failure to report an unpermitted discharge of oil
  • Failure to comply with a prohibition or enforcement notice
  • Failure to supply any information required under the terms of the permit
  • Wilfully obstructing a DECC inspector

A person found guilty of an offence will on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

Enforcement and Prohibition Notices: DECC, if of the opinion that the OPPC Regulations have been contravened, may issue an enforcement notice. This will specify the matters that constitute or are likely to constitute a contravention, steps required to rectify the matter and the time period within which these steps must be undertaken. If an enforcement notice is not addressed, DECC may take action itself and recover reasonable costs back from the operator. If DECC is of the opinion that the operation of an offshore installation involves an imminent risk of serious pollution as a consequence of any discharge of oil, DECC may serve a prohibition notice. This will specify the pollution risk, the steps required to remove it and the time period, and may withdraw a permit wholly or in part until the prohibition notice is withdrawn.
Offences: Offences under the OPPC Regulations, include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Discharge of oil to sea without a valid and appropriate permit being in place
  • Failure to report an unpermitted discharge of oil
  • Failure to comply with a prohibition or enforcement notice
  • Failure to supply any information required under the terms of the permit
  • Wilfully obstructing a DECC inspector

A person found guilty of an offence will on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

DECC Inspections: The OPPC Regulations give DECC far greater and wide ranging powers to monitor and investigate all oil discharges whether lawful or unlawful. Inspectors may board an installation any any reasonable time and make such investigations as they consider necessary to investigate whether the requirements, restrictions or prohibitions imposed under the OPPC Regulations have been or are being complied with, or to monitor any discharge of oil. The DECC Environmental Inspectorate Enforcement Policy sets out the general principles that Inspectors shall follow in relation to enforcement, including prosecution.
Renewal of Chemical Permit: Permits for workovers may either be issued for a specified period and are “Term Permits” or as an “Annual Permit”. Term Permits cannot be renewed, although extensions can be applied for through submission of a Well Intervention Operation permit variation.Annual Well intervention permits may also be applied for ongoing well intervention operations from a production installation. Renewals of annual well intervention permits should be resubmitted by end of November each year to allow for approval before 1st January (or approval before first well intervention operation planned for the year).Applications need to be made to DECC for a variation in the terms and conditions of a permit (Term or Annual). This would involve any increase in the use and discharge of chemicals or additional chemicals. All applications need to be considered by DECC and MS in Scotland and CEFAS when in England and Wales.
Emergency Variation: Permit holders applying for an emergency variation should telephone the DECC out of hours contact. These details will be passed to the DECC on-call Environmental Inspector who will contact the permit holder to further discuss the emergency variation request. Following a review of the chemical permitting procedures, DECC now require that all emergency chemical variation requests are made in writing following the initial contact telephone call. The DECC on-call Environmental Inspector will email a data request with completed questions also to be returned by email. Following a review of the request, a written response granting or approving the variation will be sent by return of email.The applicant must subsequently formally vary the PETS permit within 2 working days of the emergency contact.For more information see DECC Environmental Alert 004/2009 (PDF document).
OPPC Regulations: If workover related discharges are included in the Fields Life Permit under the OPPC Regulations, this will be reviewed at a frequency stipulated in the permit schedule. The minimum frequency of review will be every three years. If planning to change the amount/frequency of discharge, an application for a variation will be needed. This must be prepared by amending the original application and clearly highlighting any changes.At least 28 days must be allowed for when applying for a variation.If a Term Permit has been issued under the new OPPC Regulations (i.e. for an activity specific time limited discharge operation), this will only be valid for that operation and will expire after this time. A new application will be required for new planned discharge operations. An application will also be required to DECC for any variation to the OPPC permit.

None at present.

Use and Discharge of Jacking Greases: Use and discharge of jacking greases for jack-up rigs must now be included in each drilling operation or well intervention operation application as appropriate. For more information see DECC correspondence (Word document).