The Offshore Pollution Liability Association Ltd
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From 1 January 2016, the definition of "Operator" specifically provides that sub-contracting or outsourcing all or any part of the operations of an offshore facility will not result in that person ceasing to be an operator for the purpose of OPOL.
OPOL is applicable to Oil Wells and Gas Wells as defined in the OPOL documents. OPOL has built on work done by the Well Status Descriptors Workgroup set up by Oil and Gas UK to provide more consistent definitions relating to abandonment of wells and suspension of well operations. From 1 April 2016 OPOL has adopted the term "Permanently Abandoned" well to confirm that OPOL does not apply to such wells.
All offshore operators currently active in exploration and production on the UKCS are party to a voluntary oil pollution compensation scheme known as OPOL.
On this website you can find out more about OPOL, read and download copies of the OPOL Agreement, Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association, Rules, Information for Prospective Members and Guidelines for Claimants. If you wish to print individual web pages - please use 'landscape' mode for best results
The Agreement came into effect on 1st May 1975, and was initially an interim measure to provide for a liability regime, whilst awaiting a regional Convention of Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage resulting from Exploration for and Exploitation of Seabed Mineral Resources (CLEE).
However the nine participating States were unable to agree and the final text of the treaty remains unratified and the UK Government judged that their interests could best be achieved through the continuing working of OPOL.
In particular, emphasis was placed on the value of the mutual guarantee which OPOL members bear for each other's obligations which would not have been the case under the l976 Convention.
OPOL applies to all offshore facilities from which there is a risk of a discharge of oil causing pollution damage, and provides a convenient means of seeing compliance by licensees with the provisions of model Clause 23(9) of the Petroleum Licensing Production (Seaward Areas) Regulations 2008. It is further reinforced by the inclusion of a standard OPOL Clause in all Joint Operating Agreements.
In addition, operators have been able to use the financial responsibility demonstrated
to OPOL to satisfy their financial responsibility verification obligations to the UK
Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) relating to exploration and appraisal wells
on the UKCS in respect of remediation and compensation up to US$250 million. For further
information about this, please see DECC's "Guidance Note to UK Offshore Oil & Gas Operators
on the Demonstration of Financial Responsibility before Consent may be Granted for Exploration
and Appraisal Wells on the UKCS" effective from 1 January 2013 and Oil & Gas UK's "Guidelines to assist
licensees in demonstrating Financial Responsibility to DECC for the Consent of Exploration &
Appraisal Wells in the UKCS", Issue 1 November 2012. Details of DECC's Guidance Note and the
OGUK Guidelines can be accessed respectively from the DECC's website at:
Details of arrangements for facilities other than exploration and appraisal wells are available in a letter dated 10 August 2015 issued by DECC.
OPOL has been extended to cover facilities in other offshore areas of North West Europe and has the support of the UK and other Governments. It is accepted as part of the committed response of the oil industry in dealing with compensation claims arising from offshore oil pollution incidents from exploration and production facilities.
OPOL Limits of Liability have been increased over the intervening years to the current US$ 250 million per incident.
Download the 2015 Directors' Report and Financial Statements
Download the 2014 Directors' Report and Financial Statements