UK Fisheries Offshore Oil & Gas Legacy Trust Fund Limited

What is FishSAFE Information?

FishSAFE Information Project provides fishermen with positional information about offshore surface and subsea structures and infrastructure in connection with oil and gas activities in UK waters thereby enhancing their safety. The information is used by fishermen in their plotter systems and in the FishSAFE unit.

The possibility of including data relating to subsea power, renewables and telecoms is being investigated.

The Project is funded by FLTC Services Limited. Its costs and the costs of development, production and supply of the FishSAFE Unit have been supported by substantial grants awarded by the Scottish Ministers and the European Union through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and its predecessors thereby investing in sustainable fisheries.

Who are Offshore Energies UK?

Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) (previously Oil & Gas UK) is the leading representative body for the UK offshore energies industries.  It informs, engages and champions the UK energy industries as part of a diverse national energy mix.  Membership is open to all companies active in the UK Continental Shelf, from large producers and contractors to SMEs working in low carbon energy.

Who are the SFF?

The Scottish Fishermen`s Federation (SFF) is a group of member associations representing the fishing industry throughout Scotland. It was formed in 1973 to preserve and promote the collective interests of Fishermen’s Associations. The Federation plays an active role in advancing the interests of Scottish fishermen at national and international levels by lobby government officials in Edinburgh, London and Brussels. The Federation also plays an important role in helping to inform: fisheries science; marine environment management; inshore fisheries management; marine safety regulations; and industry training/recruitment programmes.

Who are the NFFO?

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) is the representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The NFFO was established in 1977 during the negotiations for the 1983 Common Fisheries Policy agreement. The paramount importance of being able to speak with a single industry voice has remained the defining feature of the NFFO’s existence. It’s mission is to contribute to and advance National Fisheries Policy to ensure a profitable, viable and sustainable fishing industry.

What examples of co-operation have the oil and gas and fishing industries displayed in the past?

The offshore industry frequently engages fishermen through channels including Fisheries Liaison Officers.

Fishing vessels may be contracted during oil and gas industry operations to act as guard vessels for protecting oil & gas related infrastructure during periods of installation or construction. Similarly, fishing vessels are engaged for conducting trawl sweeps at various locations to verify the area is clear of any residual oil related material.

Also, oil and gas related infrastructure on the seabed can present a potential snagging hazard to fishermen. For many years, fishermen in the UK and Europe have been provided with detailed co-ordinates of each suspended well via the bi-annual “Kingfisher Yellow Card”, with updates published every two weeks in the Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletin.

To further enhance navigational safety for fishermen, the UK oil and gas industry has contributed significant funding towards a seabed information service that provides up-to-date electronic mapping of oil and gas subsea and surface infrastructure in UK waters together with the dissemination of this data to all fishermen.

In 1999, the use of digitised seabed data was advanced through the development of the FishSAFE unit, a dedicated plotter with an alarm which provides warning to fishermen when their vessels approach oil and gas related seabed infrastructure. The units have been upgraded from time to time and development of the Mark 3 units is underway. They should be available in late Spring 2020.

The oil and gas and fishing industries in the UK have worked together in developing the Offshore Energies UK Fishermen’s Un-attributable Debris Compensation Fund. This fund was established by Offshore Energies UK in 1975 following representation from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) to address the issue of un-attributable debris from oil and gas related activity in UKCS.

The purpose of the Fund is to provide a means of redress to UK skippers who have suffered loss or damage to fishing gear caused by UKCS oil-related debris where the operator responsible cannot be established. Where the damage can be attributed to a specific operator, claims are pursued directly with that operator but if unsuccessful, an application may then be made to the Fishermen’s Compensation Fund for consideration.

Why was UK Fisheries Offshore Oil and Gas Legacy Trust Fund Limited established?

The Company was established to be a credible entity that promotes and enhances the safety of fishermen in UK waters by providing information and managing inter-industry issues into the long-term.

The primary objects of the Company are to promote and enhance safety of mariners by taking steps to reduce the risk of loss of life or injury to people, or damage to property, by reason of oil and gas structures or infrastructure left in place following decommissioning or in existence now.

In so far as there remains any surpluses not required for those primary objects, as may be determined by the Board from time to time, secondary objects including the advancement and support of safety initiatives, education, science and environmental protection by funding or otherwise supporting or assisting studies, may be pursued by the Company.

What activities will the company or its subsidiary FLTC Services Limited carry out?

The Company or FLTCS will collect and manage funds provided by the oil & gas industry at the time of decommissioning to manage the implications arising from any structures or pipelines left on the seabed upon completion of the OPRED approved decommissioning programme. These funds and initial support monies from Oil & Gas UK are be used for the following activities:

  • Promote maintenance of the database of seabed objects and ensure communication of this information to on-board fishing vessel plotters
  • Consider how to maintain information on decommissioned residues over the long term, including the monitoring of sites
  • Promote activities that support the safety of fishermen in UK waters and enhance UK fisheries/fishing activity
  • Engage in actions to address inter-industry issues, especially those concerned with environmental or health & safety aspects of marine operations, including operational guidelines, sustainable fishing methods and practical responses to government concerns.
  • Procure supply of the FishSAFE device.

What is the FishSAFE unit?

FishSAFE is a hands-free device, normally fitted to fishing vessels, which uses a combination of visible and audible warnings to indicate that there may be a risk to fishing operations due to the proximity of offshore subsea infrastructure.

What are examples of the types of project which could qualify for consideration under secondary objects?

  • Funding independent fisheries scientific research into fish stocks, including environmental impacts on stocks and other matters that relate to fisheries
  • Support and research into improving the efficiency of the fishery as well as promoting research into more environmentally friendly and sustainable fishery and fishing methods
  • Support for industry economic research and modelling
  • Restocking the fishery e.g. shellfish and fish seeding and enhancement projects
  • Research into seabed mapping
  • Support for fishing industry safety initiatives such as:
    • Support for purchase of safety equipment for fishing vessels
    • Support for more advanced sea survival training for fishermen thereby enhancing standards throughout.
    • Support for generic campaigns to promote and enhance safety awareness of fishermen and vessels, particularly in relation to decommissioned structures being left in situ.

How is FLTC structured?

The Company is a not-for-profit charitable company, limited by guarantee, the Founding Members of which are the fishing and oil & gas industry associations (Offshore Energies UK, SFF & NFFO), in which each industry has an equal weight in Company decision making.

Each Founding Member is entitled to appoint a Director (2 for Offshore Energies UK). The Board of Directors controls the running and actions of the Company. The Board allows each Founding Member to nominate one observer to attend Board meetings, but not vote. An independent chairman of the Board is appointed (and may be removed) by the Directors. OPRED are also invited to provide a non-voting observer of Board proceedings.

Company officers are employed to manage the ongoing requirements of the Company, as determined by the Directors. Two committees, appointed by and reporting back to Directors, have been formed to manage existing schemes for seabed data (Technical Committee) and to manage endowment fund investments (Investment Committee).

Who are the company directors / chairperson / management Team?

Offshore Energies UK Director Appointments: John Skipper and Graham Elgie
SFF Appointment: Director: Elspeth Macdonald
NFFO Appointment: Director: Mike Cohen
Executive Chairman of the Board: Charles Scott
OPRED appointed Observer: Mrs. Wendy Kennedy
Company Secretary: Derek Duthie
Technical Committee Chairman: Charles Scott
Investment Committee Chairman: Charles Scott

Where will the company receive its income/funding?

Operating companies will be encouraged and are expected to make a contribution to the Investment Fund in respect of the individual assets left in place after decommissioning where a derogation is granted, the investment revenue of which will in time cover the costs of the Company’s activities. The intent is to be consistent for all installations/pipelines i.e. the amount contributed would be constant, in real terms, adjusted in line with RPI. Once the payment is made the Company will not approach that co-venture group for a further contribution for the same Legacy Issue.

As well as these one-off contributions to the Investment Fund, there will also need to be an ongoing contribution from Offshore Energies UK to the Company in support of activities. At some point after the fund has been established and is sustainable, this annual contribution will no longer be needed as income generated by the fund will cover expenditure needs.

The Scottish Ministers and the European Union through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and its predecessor have awarded substantial grants to FLTC Services Limited to support FLTC’s projects.

Will all installations be removed at the time of decommissioning?

At the first Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission (Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic) in 1998, a binding Decision was agreed which set the rules to be applied to the disposal of offshore installations at sea. Under the Decision, there is a prohibition on the dumping and leaving wholly or partly in place of offshore installations.

The Decision recognises that there may be difficulty in removing the ‘footings’ of large steel jackets weighing more than 10,000 tonnes and in removing concrete installations. As a result there are derogations for these categories of installations if the internationally agreed assessment and consultation process shows that leaving these in place is justifiable. Certain pipelines will also remain.

Which concrete installations/large steel footings are to be left in place?

There are many structures and over 5000km of pipelines which may be candidates for leaving in place following cessation of production. Of these some are concrete structures and some are large steel. Operators for each structure will decide whether to apply for a derogation or to remove the structure completely. With ever advancing technology, the safe removal of these structures may become more viable, but cost implications are also relevant.

Six installations have already received OPRED approval for decommissioning programmes with derogation from OSPAR 98/3. They are NW Hutton, and the Miller Platform operated by BP, Frigg MCP01, operated by Total, the Murchison and Ninian North Platforms operated by CNR International and a Brent structure operated by Shell.

New version of FishSAFE unit

The much enhanced latest version of the FishSAFE unit are now available. This version includes substantial improvements to provide fishermen with the benefit of a state of the art aid to safety. Previous versions of the unit have proved invaluable with sales of over 300. The European Union and the Scottish Government have awarded grants to support the project.