IPIECA Releases Update of Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Guide

Credit: IPIECA.
In-situ burning is just one of a variety of potential at-sea response options that may be identified for inclusion in a contingency plan during the SIMA process.

IPIECA has released updated guidance on oil spill preparedness and response. The document, Guidelines on Implementing Spill Impact Mitigation Assessment, offers an introductory overview of the broad topics of oil spill preparedness and response and provides signposting and hyperlinks to the full range of guidance materials, detailed reports, and technical support documents in the oil spill series by IPIECA and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP).

This document supersedes the 2015 publication under the same title. For the first time, it encompasses subsea well intervention and Arctic response. This inclusive approach supports the contribution of IOGP into this joint-association publication.

IPIECA brings together 45 years of experience and knowledge from their member companies to develop good practice for effective oil spill preparedness and response, along with the understanding of stakeholder expectations specific to our industry.

Guidance Introduction

Minimizing the ecological, socioeconomic and cultural effect of an oil spill through the development of a safe and effective response strategy is the primary aim of those responsible for contingency plans and incident management. Strategy is defined as the utilization of a single response option, or combination of options, to combat an oil spill effectively. The selection of the most appropriate response options typically involves the consideration of various factors and trade-offs, which can be complicated and overwhelming. Therefore, a structured spill impact mitigation assessment (SIMA) process has been developed to help facilitate response option selection and support strategy development. The SIMA process is described in this document.

In some jurisdictions, the oil spill response strategy is largely determined or prescribed by national policy, regulation, or guidance. In others, the operator of the individual asset or activity is required to develop a strategy that minimizes oil spill effects. For the latter, the SIMA process described in this document can be used to identify and compare the potential effectiveness and collateral effects of candidate response options, enabling a qualitative and transparent determination of the most appropriate strategy. For the former, this SIMA process can similarly be used to dispute prescriptive or predetermined response strategies if the operator believes alternative strategies are more protective of the environment.

Given the broad range and scale of oil spill planning scenarios, diverse perceptions of the value of ecological, socioeconomic and cultural sensitivities, and the innate realities of oil spill response field operations, no single SIMA methodology is suitable, or indeed appropriate, for application in all situations. It is important to note that the SIMA process described herein is primarily applicable to larger or higher consequence oil spill incidents or scenarios where multiple spill response options are being considered. For smaller, lower consequence spills where only one or two response options are contemplated or feasible, a formal SIMA is generally not warranted.

Additionally, in actual incidents where response strategy decisions must be made under time-constraints, an abbreviated SIMA process may be required that relies primarily or solely on the best available professional judgement and expert opinions. An abbreviated SIMA may generally follow the process described herein, or a different process, depending on the incident’s circumstances. The methodology described in this document has the potential to be used within any national framework.

Find the full guidance here.

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