(Reuters) – BG Group’s Andy Samuel has been named chief executive officer of Britain’s new Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said on Thursday.
The OGA is a new regulator due to be up and running by April 2015. The government is setting it up following recommendations by Sir Ian Wood as part of a strategic industry review published earlier this year.
The review identified the need for an agency with greater powers to foster collaboration between government and industry and maximise recovery of oil and gas from the UK North Sea.
Getting an effective regulator up and running is seen as vital if the United Kingdom’s offshore oil and gas industry is to continue to thrive.
The current “light touch” regulator, which is part of the energy department, is seen as under-resourced and less able to grapple with the challenges of getting the remaining oil and gas out of a region where costs are rising and many fields have become marginal and interdependent.
Samuel is managing director of BG Group’s Exploration and Production in Europe. DECC said he would be involved in any decisions vital to the establishment of the OGA made before he formally takes up the full-time position on Jan. 1, 2015.
Samuel’s early priorities will be to establish the OGA, equip it with the right people, skills and culture, and to establish a strong partnership with government and industry as part of the new tripartite approach.
Sir Ian Wood said Samuel’s “impressive experience and the significant credibility he holds within the industry” would put him in a very strong position to foster the collaboration needed.
Malcolm Webb, chief executive of industry body Oil & Gas UK, welcomed the appointment, saying Samuel was a “highly-respected industry figure” with the right qualities for the role.
“The government has chosen wisely in selecting Andy Samuel to take the helm,” he said.
“We are at a critical stage in the history of UK offshore oil and gas development and bold steps need to be taken now to ensure strong activity continues into the future,” he said.
The government is also asking industry and others for their views on how best to deliver the next stage of Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations.
In a call for evidence, which will close on Dec. 31, 2014, the government invited responses on the governance and scope of the new regulator, its strategy, its new powers and its ability to levy sanctions.
The government also announced 134 licences covering 252 blocks in what Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said was on track to be one of its biggest offshore licensing rounds in five decades.
(Reporting by Claire Milhench; editing by David Clarke)