The Civil Contingencies Act is part of the Government’s effort to increase the UK’s resilience to a wide range of disruptive challenges, including terrorism, natural disasters and infectious diseases. The Act brings into being a National and Regional Structure for both planning and responding to these threats. One of the main pieces of legislation that it replaces is the Emergency Powers Act 1920.
In directing measures necessary in the instance of an actual or threatened upstream oil and gas supply emergency, the Secretary of State will still be likely to exercise his emergency powers under the 1976 Energy Act. It has always been understood that those powers extend to the offshore sector as well as the main UK territorial area. However, it has been decided to use the opportunity of the Civil Contingencies Act to insert into the Energy Act 1976 a provision stating that those emergency powers may be exercised in relation to anything or any activity within the United Kingdom’s Territorial Seas and its Continental Shelf (UKCS).
GAS QUALITY A gas quality relaxation would only be issued by National Grid on behalf of the Network Emergency Co-ordinator (NEC) in accordance with the obligations under the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GS(M)R) 1996. The NEC may only approve the relaxation of the gas quality limits where “it is necessary to prevent a supply emergency” occurring or to minimise the safety consequences of an actual emergency. The Network Code provides no arrangements, or liability protection for any relaxation of any Network Code or contractual gas quality limits that apply at Entry Points to the system, except during emergencies.
To minimise the safety consequences of a Network Gas Supply Emergency (Stage 1 or higher), the NEC could approve a relaxation of gas quality limits, notably from Normal GS(M)R limits to Emergency Specification Gas limits - GS(M)R Schedule 3 Part I to Part II (only affects ICF and Wobbe).
The GS(M)R state that these gas quality limits apply at the start of the network i.e.: the ownership boundary between third parties and National Grid's system (the only exception being Lupton).
The GS(M)R require shippers, gas processing facility operators and storage facility operators (in addition to other parties) to “co-operate as far as is necessary with a person conveying gas in a network and with a Network Emergency Co-ordinator”. This regulation would include gas quality relaxations.