New “Improved” Independent regulator!!!
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy made an announcement yesterday.
The Oil and Gas Authority will be established as an independent regulator by the UK Government, with new powers that mean it can act with greater speed and flexibility to drive investment, support jobs and further the UK’s competitive edge in the oil and gas industry to ensure the UK remains an attractive destination for investment.
Now various people from Mike Hill to our local MP in the Fylde have been calling for an independent regulator for racking for some years now. Back in 2013 we were treated to the government’s first attempt at sidestepping the issue when they appointed Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO) to this role, but giving them the mission of simplifying and streamlining regulation and being “a single point of contact for investors”. It was immediately clear that this was not what was required of a properly independent regulator, even if Mr Menzies did feel the need to pat himself on the back as a result.
Move on 3 years and what will we have now?
We will have an “independent” regulator which has
powers to drive greater collaboration and efficiency will help attract investment, support jobs and make sure UK oil and gas remains competitive for the future
I’m not sure that that is what regulation actually means to most of us is it? I think that would be better defined as “promotion” rather than “regulation”.
Further on we read that the Oil and Gas Authority will become a “government company” whatever that particular oxymoron means. We can’t find any reference at all to “Government Company” in the most up to date set of Classification of Public Bodies so we assume it will actually be a “government corporation”, one defining criterion of a “government corporation” being:
It is controlled by central government, local government or other public corporations
Given that criterion, the statement that
It also enables the transfer of the Secretary of State’s existing regulatory powers in respect of oil and gas to the Oil and Gas Authority.
is a little hard to understand.
The government is actually passing on all of its regulatory powers to a quasi-autonomous body which it will continue (by definition) to control, but which it is claiming will be independent.
Of course we may have got this wrong as the definitions are hard to pin down. It may not be that this is just another OUGO retread, with an “independent” regulator which is actually a cheerleader for the industry it regulates, but it certainly looks like it, doesn’t it?