About OCNS

The OCNS Team at Cefas registers chemicals used in offshore oil and gas applications for use in the UK and Netherlands waters.

Registration of chemicals used by the Oil and Gas industry in UK and Netherlands waters:

  • is carried out by a multidisciplinary OCNS team at the Cefas Lowestoft Laboratory
  • precedes the permitting process which constitutes part of the environmental impact assessment required under EU law (Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985)

The members of the OCNS team provide scientific and environmental advice and perform the technical and administrative services necessary to evaluate and register chemicals used and discharged offshore.

In the UK, OCNS acts on behalf of the regulator Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Since the 1st January 2007 OCNS has been leading the registration of chemical products used offshore by the oil and gas industry in the Netherlands on behalf of the State Supervision of Mines (SSM).

Protocols prepared as guidance to assist the suppliers for offshore chemicals for use in the Netherlands are available under Useful links.

The OCNS team is involved in compiling use and discharge Information of offshore chemicals as part of OSPAR reporting.

How does OCNS work with OSPAR?

The United Kingdom (UK) is a contracting party to the 1992 OSPAR Convention which regulates the protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic.

As one of the sixteen Contracting parties, the UK is committed to protecting the maritime area against the adverse effects of human activities.

All OSPAR Contracting Parties are required to provide a system of monitoring and inspection to assess compliance under the OSPAR Convention legislative framework guiding and regulating the protection of the marine environment in the North-East Atlantic region. In the UK, this is administered under the Offshore Chemical Regulations 2002 (OCR 2002, as amended 2011). In the Netherlands, this is administered under The Mining Regulation 2003 (as amended).

The OSPAR contracting parties are required to report annually on the use, discharge and spill of chemicals by the by the offshore Oil and Gas Industry. For Netherlands-based operations the OCNS team collects this information from the operators and analyse it against the information on the OCNS database to produce suitable reports for both the operators and for the State Supervision of Mines (SSM). For UK-based operations this information is collected by BEIS with the OCNS team being involved in the analysis.

Under the OSPAR Convention, it is required that registration and hazard assessment is completed on the chemicals used and discharged offshore by the Oil and Gas Industry as well as a process whereby operations permits are issued.

How does OSPAR relate to REACH?

Under the terms of the current OSPAR Pre-screening scheme (OSPAR Recommendation 2017/1), suppliers are required to ensure that substances used in offshore chemicals meet the relevant pre-registration or registration requirements of the REACH Regulation.

Suppliers are advised to follow the REACH compliance flowchart shown in Figure 1 of the OSPAR Guidelines for Completing the HOCNF before specific toxicity, biodegradation and bioaccumulation tests are commissioned and data is added on the HOCNF form.

Contact OCNS

Offshore Chemical Notification Scheme
Pakefield Road
Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0HT

Tel: +44 (0)1502 527759 - OCNS administration
Tel: +44 (0)1502 562244 - Cefas switchboard
Fax: +44 (0)1502 513865

Risk-assessment enquiries:OCNS.ra@cefas.co.uk
Chemical-submission enquiries:OCNS.chems@cefas.co.uk