Nine years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and industry is in a considerably better position to respond to a loss of well control of that scale. With the delivery of the Offset Installation Equipment (OIE) in January 2018 the joint industry Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP) has drawn to a close. Despite this, equipment and services continue to be developed. This paper will communicate developments in subsea well response technologies and the latest guidance developed by industry.
This paper provides an overview of the International Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Report 594 - Source Control Emergency Response Planning Guide for Subsea Wells. What should a comprehensive subsea Source Control Emergency Response Plan (SCERP) consider? What resources including manpower, expertise and equipment would be required for a controlled response? In addition, it provides an overview of recent enhancements in subsea well response equipment. This includes; offset installation equipment (OIE) for shallow water scenarios where vertical access above a wellhead may not be possible and air-freight capping stack solutions to minimise incident country configuration and testing.
The findings from technical and logistical studies, whilst developing this technology, will be clearly communicated for industry consideration. This includes critical activities to be considered in developing response times models. This paper will demonstrate that capping equipment located in country does not necessarily improve the overall response time for a loss of well control event; an effectively planned response is more important than immediate hardware availability. The importance of mutual aid of personnel and equipment in a response will be key as not one company can provide all the solutions.
Although only required for remote or land locked basins, to further enhance industries capabilities, it has recently been demonstrated that existing ram based capping stacks can be transported by air, without disassembly, and thereby maintaining pressure boundaries. This allows for a more rapid air mobilisation to the incident location without the need for major re-assembly upon arrival.
Dispersant use can be a critical component of an effective response to larger offshore oil spills. In particular, it is recognized that, when used appropriately, dispersants can greatly mitigate the potential for long term environmental impact by preventing floating oil slicks from remaining on the sea surface and stranding on sensitive shorelines. These benefits have been realized following large incidents such as the Sea Empress spill (UK, 1996) and well blowouts in Australia (Montara, 2009) and in the Gulf of Mexico Macondo 2010). In recent years, the decision to use dispersants in response to an oil spill incident often draws much public and media scrutiny. The possible spread of misinformation, combined with unrealistic expectations about the effectiveness other oil spill response options such as mechanical recovery and a lack of understanding regarding the potential for overall mitigation of a spill's impact through dispersant application, can establish major obstacles for its use. In the event of an oil spill incident, regulators need to ensure that all available spill response tools are considered when developing and implementing the response strategy that will be the most effective for dealing with the incident. They also need to have appropriate information to be able to justify their decisions to a wide range of stakeholder communities. Successful use of dispersants during an incident is often time dependent and therefore pre-established and well understood regulations concerning dispersant approval and use are critical to enable a timely decision-making process. The IPIECA (the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues) and IOGP (International Association of Oil and Gas Producers) guidance document on Regulatory Approval of Dispersant Products and Authorization for their Use aims to provide the background and relevant information for use by regulators to ensure that a fit-for-purpose dispersant policy is established as a part of the national oil spill contingency planning framework. The main purpose of the document is to establish a common understanding of what is important for an effective regulatory approval process for dispersants and their use. Industry's recommended approach for developing regulations for dispersant approval and use are discussed, based on the IPIECA-IOGP guidance document. The primary concerns of the oil spill stakeholder community about their use are addressed. Current industry good practice is detailed and a recommended path forward to address relevant issues is offerred, e.g., from dispersant effectiveness and toxicity testing to recommendations on authorization for use and operational monitoring.
AbstractObjectives/Scope: The paper examines how oil spill Surveillance, Modelling and Visualization capabilities have evolved over the years and how synergies between these technologies aspire to answer some of the pressing questions on "Situational Awareness" for operational decision making during oil spill events.Methods, Procedures, Process: Techniques exist that provide information about a slick's location, and potentially, information can be gathered about characteristics of a slick such as thickness. This is important in order to maximize the encounter rate of spill response tools, since the best equipment will do little if it is not located in or able to be deployed at the location of greatest concentration, whether it is to be collected, burned, or dispersed. Used together, these technologies ensure that resource intensive airborne and ground based spill response tools and personnel can be deployed effectively and timely manner to achieve optimum response performance.Results, Observations, Conclusions: Major oil spills may involve multiple intervention and response strategies. Although much of the focus has been on mechanical containment and recovery, in-situ burn and dispersants, there have been significant developments with respect to sensing technologies that may allow for better discrimination of the details of a surface slick. This is important since effective response relies on the ability to locate the majority of a spill. It is usually the case that most of the slick volume resides in a small area and by identifying the areas of thicker oil, it is possible to deploy response tools in a more effective manner. Therefore, it is important to have good information about the size of a slick, type of spilled material, location and trajectory. Without this it would be difficult to know how much response equipment to plan for and where to position it. In addition, it is expected that the oil will be subject to natural weathering processes such as evaporation, dissolution, dispersion, and emulsification, all of which may diminish response tool effectiveness. Slicks will naturally spread and in locations in the open ocean, currents and winds will serve to spread the oil farther, making it less continuous and thinner.Novel/Additive Information: Technological advancement in oil spill response operations continues to occur constantly, despite a common misconception that there has been little or no change since the first major offshore oil spill happened in the 1960s. Technological advancements will be discussed with a focus on operational readiness level and existing knowledge gaps for future improvements.
With a current global oil demand of over 95 million barrels of oil per day, oil spill risks exist in exploration and production, transportation, storage and distribution segments of the value chain. Industry spends considerable focus, investment and action on the prevention of oil spills. However, part of the risk and potential impact reduction is to effectively prepare for and be able to rapidly respond to an oil spill event quickly, efficiently and effectively any where in the world. As an industry cooperative with a global remit, OSRL must train and prepare its personnel to respond any where in the world including those locations where the climatic conditions might be considered extreme from either extreme heat or extreme cold.
AbstractThe risk of an oil spill in Asia Pacific region has escalated in recent years due to increases in maritime traffic and oil and gas activities. It is possible that oil spills may result in serious environmental and socio-economic consequences with long term detrimental effects to the wider community. Implementing effective response to an oil spill incident is a complex decision-making process involving the consideration of multiple variables such as available response technologies, operational factors and logistical constraints, and is often carried out in the face of incomplete information. A rapid decision making process is also needed as the effective implementation of the various options to mitigate the oil spill impacts may be reduced with time.Comparative Ecological Risk Assessment is a widely accepted tool for evaluating ecological concerns that allows for the objective comparison of the relative risk contributed by each specific ‘stressor’ or ‘option’ being considered. The process facilitates optimum decision making through a more complete use of available information and participative consultation with key stakeholders.The focus of this paper is the adaptation of the widely accepted comparative ecological risk assessment process towards a uniquely complex trans-boundary oil spill scenario for the Asia Pacific Region. The application of the comparative ecological risk assessment to region-specific scenarios will drew upon the authors' operational knowledge of responding to oil spills in the region and similar project studies conducted in other regions globally. While presenting oil spill response issues that are unique to Asia Pacific region, the paper will detail a fit for purpose comparative ecological risk assessment framework that can be implemented during a trans-boundary oil spill scenario with limited information and few resources. Emphasis will be given to problem formulation that takes temporal considerations and long term net benefits while combining expert judgment, stakeholder values and local knowledge to reach optimum decisions without undue stress on the resources available to do so.
Following the Montara (2009) and Macondo (2010) oil spill incidents, the international oil industry has undertaken an unprecedented collective effort to apply the lessons from these and other oil spill incidents to improve the management and technical aspects of oil spill response. Over the last three years the IOGP/IPIECA Joint Industry Project (JIP) on Oil Spill Response has overseen 19 specific projects to enhance knowledge and understanding of good practice across a wide range of related technical disciplines. The legacy of this effort includes a comprehensive library of peer reviewed outputs ranging from scan/ glance technical overview products through the broad suite of 24 Good Practice Guides, and also includes a number of deep study-level technical papers and reports.
The challenge today is to inculcate this vast body of technical guidance into the awareness of decision makers through a coordinated programme of communication and outreach. The overarching aim is to raise levels of knowledge and understanding relating to the tools and techniques of oil spill response amongst opinion formers and decision-makers. In so doing, industry can overcome barriers that currently restrict / prevent access to use all available response tools, based on a scientific assessment of the most appropriate response strategies.
Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) is working with industry on initiatives designed to socialise these outputs within a broad range of stakeholders. Key steps on this journey include:
This paper will discuss each of these ongoing initiatives and will highlight the successes that have been achieved and the challenges that remain.
In different parts of the world, oil spill preparedness and response is approached in different ways. This variance in approach is particularly obvious in the design and development of capability for offshore response. Usually, the rationale behind the offshore capability design may include either of the following methods such as quantitative criteria, qualitative criteria, or a combination of the two as well as prescriptive legal requirements.
From an offshore operator's perspective, the demands for oil spill response capability vary from region to region depending on the requirements of the country they are operating in. The country may have legislation which can be quite prescriptive at times, for example; India, which prescribes a 700 tonne Tier 1 capability, which a lot of the time is not practical for the operator to meet, begging the question - what is the ideal answer?
This paper aims to answer this question, drawing on the wealth of experience gained from dealing with operators, regulators and the industry across the globe. The paper will take a closer look at the different approaches each country adopts for defining oil spill response capability, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each. Based on this, the paper aims to present some suggestions for designing and developing a cost effective yet, fit for purpose capability design for the operators and regulators to consider.
Salt, David (Oil Spill Response Limited)
Recent developments in aerial spraying technology to meet offshore legislative requirements and new technology to improve global response to major spill incidents.
Within the past two years the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has introduced new legislation and response guidelines on offshore operators within the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) to provide improved surveillance and aerial dispersant response systems to offshore spills incidents. Over the years various aircraft types have been equipped with either dedicated or non-dedicated aerial dispersant systems to provide an aerial dispersant spray response. The main determining factor of system and aircraft choice typically has been the operating cost of the aircraft, leading in the main to the use of older aircraft. The paper will describe and illustrate innovative technology used by the Industry to satisfy these requirements in an efficient and cost effective manner using more modern aircraft types, optimising the utilisation of the aircraft and minimising the cost to the operators.
The application of dispersants must be carried out as quickly as possible to be effective; to respond to remote spills it is necessary to get the equipment on site as soon after the event as is practicable. The paper describes an innovative technology development to provide a cost-effective rapid response tool for oil spill incidents.
The Legislative Drivers
The introduction of the Oil Pollution Preparedness Convention (OPRC) had a significant impact on the oil pollution response requirements placed on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf Operators. The implementation of this legislation, combined with a restructuring of the UK Government response arrangements, required operators to be able to guarantee a response to an oil spill within the parameters described in Figure 1.
At the same time there was an increased requirement placed on operators to provide aerial surveillance of an oil spill incident.
Neilson, David E. (Oil Spill Response Limited)
The paper analyses the benefits, financial implications and potential drawbacks of the oil industry holding response exercises and drills. The paper gives guidelines on how to maximize the investment both in financial terms and in personal effort. In addition, discussion is held on the drivers, objectives and who should do what in a sample numbers of countries. The author's personal experience will assist the reader in avoiding problems, how to overcome issues in the development and management of drills internationally.
The paper looks at what is expected in different part of the globe, what really is required for best industry and government preparedness. Also explored are the changing trends of expectations, requirements and what really works world-wide. The scope of industry operations covered in the paper is upstream exploration and production activities and transportation. Highlighting the effectiveness of numbers of people involved, innovative use of exercise injects and some low cost but effective options will also be explored.
The pitfalls that could devalue the drill are also discussed. Such problems as industry and governments not being equally skilled in such issues as response management and the ability to draw on appropriate resources. In certain cases these problems can defeat the initial objectives of holding the drill. Guidance will also be given on how to decide who and when organizations should be involved in the development and planning phases of the exercise.
Finally the summary and conclusions give opinion on why industry carry's out drills, what the benefits should be, is it worthwhile and how well we do it?.
Internationally there still remains an imbalance of what is understood or what is required of an oil spill response exercise. In some countries a program of preparedness drills is required by law, in most others, the level and frequency is left to industry and individual organizations. Although recently, countries that are signatories to the OPRC convention are required to have in place a published programme of exercises. Whatever the regime, it is important that the event is organized and executed to maximum benefit. It is also important to understand that oil spills, are in most cases connected to some other issue of emergency response. This could be ship salvage, damage to exploration and production (E&P) facilities or process plant. In many cases the resources required to respond to the pollution and the other emergency element are similar and therefore lead to the need to prioritize resource utilization. It is essential that these other issues are recognized and included in any exercise.
Expectations of what is required or what represents a successful drill or exercise will vary greatly between certain parties. The perception by the public of a successful exercise will differ from the view of industry and government.
Salt, David (Oil Spill Response Limited)
Oil spills are not noted for their recognition of international boundaries, it is a relatively simple matter for a spill to quickly escalate into an international incident. It has also been recognized that there is benefit in allowing resources to be shared when responding to spills through a process of layering the response levels. One important factor in this is the pre-planning to allow this process to run smoothly and effectively. This paper looks at some of the issues involved in this planning cycle.
Over the last few years the Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Convention (OPRC) has been spreading throughout the international arena. This convention outlines the benefits of improved planning, training management and response equipment availability to enhance the success of any response operation. The convention attempts to improve the cross boundary co-operation between countries to facilitate the deployment of personnel and equipment to provide assistance.
The amount of oil spill equipment which is available in the world is quite astonishing, the oil industry (IPIECA) approach to oil spill contingency planning recommends that the tiered approach to oil spills be adopted. This concept is aimed at ensuring that each operation conducted by the industry has the requisite amount of equipment and resources to respond to the spills which are most likely to occur i.e. the small operational spill, whilst catering for the large event which may require additional resources from outside the region. Ultimately the major event or worst case scenario must be considered where all of the local and regional response capability is exhausted and additional resources must be imported from an external source.
The structure may be represented diagrammatically (Fig. 1).
In order to define the tiers or layers of response it is important to consider the operation taking place. The likely magnitude of a tier 1 spill from a VLCC hose failure during cargo operation at an SBM will be vastly different from that of a hose failure during a small bunker transfer operation in a port. Equally a tier 1 spill which migrates away from the area of operation automatically becomes a Tier 2 spill because it has a wider impact potential.
The most satisfactory way to define the tiers is by referring to the ability to respond to them. For example:-
Tier 1 - A spill which can be dealt with by the resources immediately available.
Tier 2 - A spill which cannot be dealt with by the resources immediately available and requiring local or regional assistance.
Tier 3 - A spill which requires national or international resources to be deployed.
Industry has over the last few years required that operators be required to provide an adequate Tier 1 response based on a comprehensive spill risk assessment of the operation.
This has led to an increased availability of response equipment, which may in the event of a larger be mutually pooled to support a Tier 2 incident.
Since the introduction of the OPRC convention ratifying states have been required to ensure that the following elements were in place to respond to an incident.
- A designated competent national authority
- A National response plan