The use and discharge of hazardous substances in the offshore oil and gas industry have been identified as a cause for great concern. To reduce the overall impact of offshore chemicals on the marine environment, OSPAR has adopted a harmonised mandatory control system for use and reduction of discharges of offshore chemicals. This system promotes the shift towards the use of less hazardous or preferably non-hazardous substances. There is a common OSPAR interpretation of which chemicals are covered and not covered by the control system.
Chemical suppliers must provide the national authorities with data and information about chemicals to be used and discharged offshore according to the Harmonised Offshore Chemical Notification Format (HOCNF). OSPAR has guidelines on how to complete the format. Based on the information sent by the chemical supplier the national authorities carries out the pre-screening and takes the appropriate regulatory action, such as issuing discharge permits.
Chemical suppliers should follow the OSPAR Guidelines for Toxicity Testing of Substances and Preparations Used and Discharged Offshore. OSPAR has also prepared a Protocol on Methods for the Testing of Chemicals used in the offshore oil industry.
The OSPAR List of Substances/Preparations Used and Discharged Offshore which are Considered to Pose Little or No Risk to the Environment (PLONOR) contains substances whose use and discharge offshore are subject to expert judgement by the competent national authorities or do not need to be strongly regulated.