Papers & Presentations

Oil Spill Response Limited - Papers & Publications


OSRL has frequently supported industry conference and seminar events by submitting papers and posters and being speakers. Here are some abstracts of our work. As our technical material are subject to copyright restrictions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with your name / organisation / reason for request if you wish to obtain a copy. Thank you very much.


2015 Events



OSRL and ITOPF Mumbai Seminar
29 January 2015 | Mumbai, India

A Successful Response - Effective Implementation of the Contingency Plan


The presentations from the OSRL/ITOPF joint seminar in Mumbai that took place on 29th January 2015 are now available to download.  The theme of the meeting was Government & Industry Cooperation: A Successful Response - Effective Implementation of the Contingency Plan.


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Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) Oil Spill Workshop
27 to 29 January 2015 | Tokyo, Japan

The Cooperation Of Oil Industry And The Response Community In Preparing For Major Oil Spills


Speaker: Mr Darren Waterman


The presentation provides an overview of the cooperation between Oil Spill Response (OSRL), other oil spill response organisations and global initiatives, highlighting the significance of collaboration in preparing for major oil spills.


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International Chemical And Oil Pollution Conference 2015
21 to 24 April 2015 | Singapore, Singapore

1) A Contingency Plan Flow Chart


Presenter: Mr Darren Waterman


The presentation provides an overview of Oil Spill Contingency Planning and Processes.


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2) Practical Application of Spill Modeling & Scenario Building for Effective Response
Presenter: Ms Geeva Varghese
  • What information is available
  • Modeling the variables - conditions, locations, rate and nature of the spill
  • What assumptions are needed for spill forecasting
  • How to get more information to improve response timeframes
  • Key decision marking criteria for escalation of response



2014 Events


International Oil Spill Conference
05 to 08 May 2014 | Georgia, USA

1) The Growth in Energy Activities in the South China Sea - Are we truly prepared?


Author: Yoppy Tan


Stretching from Singapore and the Strait of Malacca chokepoint in the southwest to the Strait of Taiwan in the northeast, the South China Sea is one of the most important energy trade routes in the world. Almost a third of global crude oil and over half of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) passes through the South China Sea each year. Coupled with the significant economy growth from China, that is the world’s largest oil importer, protecting the flow of oil becomes a prime consideration of the South East and East Asia governments. All of these factors make the South China Sea to hold one of the highest potential for oil spill, be it by quantity of oil or frequency of energy activities.


In the region, our industry faces increasing political challenge due to the disputed territorial waters and hence if an incident affecting multiple countries such as an oil spill occurs, the response may be chaotic if not adequately prepared for. The duty is on industry to work with regional governmental groups to promote joined-up response that is sufficiently robust and flexible to deal with both marine and well-control incidents.


Other factors that could pose a major challenge are the understanding of response tool kits and prioritization given to national environmental laws and regulations which will vary amongst the affected administrations. Has there been sufficient investigation into the range of national laws which could help/hinder inter-regional approach? What about each of the area contingency plan along the South China Sea? Is there sufficient data on the crude oil characteristics in this region and the availability of Stockpile of equipment along this stretch of the trade route?


This paper provides an overview of the oil industry's response to the growing energy activities in the South China Sea using case studies to illustrate the situations that are still occurring in practice.


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2) Lessons Learnt: Oiled Wildlife Response in Asia


Author: Ho Yei Ling


In Asia, the concept of wildlife response is a novel idea. Unlike in Europe where there is various wildlife groups actively carrying out the conservation of wildlife, in Asia, wildlife conservation is not viewed with a high priority. Only a handful of wildlife organizations exist. Many of these have not had the opportunity to respond to an oiled wildlife incident. Due to the limited availability of regional resources in Asia to respond to wildlife impacted by oil, international assistance might be required. Since the closest available resources are located in the Oceania region, a significant delay is expected before a substantial wildlife response could be mobilized.


Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) collaborates with Sea Alarm Foundation, a wildlife non-governmental organization, to address issues related to oiled wildlife response. OSRL has stockpiles of wildlife response equipment in Southampton, Bahrain, Fort Lauderdale and Singapore, which can be mobilised in the event of an incident. Each stockpile consists of a combination of specialised scientific and basic equipment. However as transportation requires time, it could require several days for some equipment to arrive in remote locations.


In addition since Asia has a limited number of personnel who are trained to use this equipment, personnel will also have to be moved. One major concern is to manage the time of arrival of equipment and trained wildlife responders in-country, ensuring that they arrive at site together thus facilitating an effective and efficient response.


This paper will highlight the lessons learnt from various responses, which comprises the element of wildlife response, that OSRL was actively involved in and how these lessons have been used to enhance oiled wildlife response capability in OSRL to better serve Asia.


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3) An Assessment of the Increasing Risk of Marine Oil Spills and the Existing Preparedness Capabilities in the Southeast Asian Region


Author: Geeva Varghese


A rapidly growing economy has pushed the energy demands and has significantly increased the exploration and production activities as well as the shipping traffic over recent years in the Southeast Asian Region. Since the introduction of offshore exploration and production in the 1960’s, Southeast Asia has gone through a remarkable transition from an onshore to an offshore focused region with more than 80% of oil production coming from offshore fields in 2011. Also the region has recently moved into deepwater exploration and production activities which now makes up more than 10% of the offshore production. With the rising production volumes, the transport of oil products has continuously increased both in volume and in number of ships used. This trend is expected to grow further with the investment in new refinery capacity of several Southeast Asian countries. All these factors have significantly contributed to the increased risk of marine spill incidents in the region.


An increased risk of oil spills necessitates an increase in the capability to respond and manage major oil spill incidents. Even though the Southeast Asian region has made some notable progress over the past few decades in terms of oil spill preparedness and response, the region’s capabilities are arguably less mature compared to other parts of the world. Most of the countries in the region have been successful in establishing the elements of preparedness advocated by the OPRC (International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation) convention. But recent spill incidents and preparedness work in the region have revealed a need for greater collaboration between the government and industry stakeholders from oil, shipping and port industries, planning and preparing of major trans-boundary oil spill incidents and alignment of oil spill preparedness and response system of a country from the national to provincial level.


This paper examines the increasing risks of oil spills from the growing vessel traffic and exploration and production activities in Southeast Asia against the current level of preparedness in the region. In doing so, the author will share the experience gained from working on various oil spill response planning and preparedness projects with the Governments and industry in the region with lessons learned, current developments and recommendation for improvements.


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4) The risk based alternative to the prescriptive EDRC approach to oil spill preparedness and response.


Author: Paul Foley


Every spill is different. This is the one globally accepted truth of oil spill response, and never more so than when responding on a global scale. The number of potential variables that combine to shape the event and the ensuing response are almost incalculable. Each incident produces a chain of events that must be analysed, assessed and acted on to build the most appropriate response with the effective application of the resources available. The amount, type and availability of such resources depend largely on the rigor and level of preparedness that the responsible party has put in place or that is required by the local regulator based on prescriptive criteria.


This paper explores the risk based approach to the development of oil spill preparedness, allowing mitigating measures to be tailored to the specific risks faced and offering an alternative approach to that offered by the more prescriptive and generic volume based approaches. Advantages and disadvantages of the risk based method are discussed and then anchored to the tiered approach to preparedness. The author draws on first-hand experience of how both approaches translate from the ‘page of preparedness’ to the ‘field of response’. Using international case histories as a reference the author draws conclusions as to whether the inherent variation experienced in spill response should translate to a more flexible, bespoke and risk based approach to the development of a robust and resilient level of preparedness.


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Premiam - Post Spill Monitoring Conference

04 June 2014 | London, UK


Preparedness, Management & Funding - Being Ready


Speaker: Rob Holland


The aim of the Premiam conference is to provide a forum for scientists, regulators and other professionals working in the field of marine oil/chemical spill monitoring to share experience, best practice and knowledge to the wider marine emergency response community. This conference covered the importance of preparedness, coordination and identified funding/support to the effective conduct of marine environmental monitoring in an emergency context and will investigate the status of existing arrangements. 


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2013 Events


08 to 12 April 2013 | Cairns, Australia

Regional Initiatives


Speaker: Declan O' Driscoll


This presentation provides an overview of how response has evolved globally, Asia's growing risks with increased E&PO activities and OSRL's resources and partnerships.


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27 to 29 May 2013 | Brisbane, Australia

Changing Landscapes


Speaker: Declan O' Driscoll


This presentation provides an overview of:

  • Changing Landscapes - Shipping to Upstream, Lessons for response
  • Changing Response - Industry Developments, Impact on OSRL
  • Perspective - Industry/Regulator


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Africa Oil & Gas Summit
October 2013 | Cape Town, South Africa

Oil Spill Response Forum


The presentation's overviews:

  • Overview of OSRL
  • Evolving response
  • New sub-sea services
  • Aviation developments
  • Integrating response


Speaker(s): Rob Holland


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2012 Events Archive


6th SPE Middle East Health, Safety, Security and Environment Conference and Exhibition (MEHSSE) | 2 - 4 April 2012 | Abu Dhabi, UAE

1) How Oil Spill Response Management, Exercises and Drills Have Changed Since the Gulf of Mexico and the Lessons Learnt


After the Gulf of Mexico many oil industry companies are retraining their emergency response teams. The use of exercises and drills is an essential part of the teambuilding that allows the response teams to deal with incidents. When establishing the team, tabletop exercises can be used to bind the group together and sort out strengths and weaknesses. Drills, where equipment and personnel are deployed, are useful. Unplanned or no-notice exercises point to areas for improvement as teams are put under more pressure. The use of external agencies, for example in a national exercise, creates a more realistic scenario comparable to an actual spill, as the response teams would have to deal with a variety of stakeholders. but is this far enough?


In the United Kingdom, oil companies are legally required to test their oil spill contingency plans once a year and their full emergency response team with the Secretary of State's representative every five years. Since the Gulf of Mexico incident these companies have gone back to their plans and the emergency teams to re-evaluate. The focus has switched from what might happen to the very worst case scenario.


At OSRL, we exercise weekly, plan tabletop exercises and no-notice drills, sit in response centres, conduct full equipment deployments and site survey reports. The lessons learnt from the Gulf of Mexico have changed our own exercises.


This paper focuses on the use of best practice in exercises, drills and spill management, lessons learnt from the Gulf of Mexico, and how to prepare oil spill response teams. It will attempt to prompt a more rigid structure for the training of response teams and try to ascertain the best method for each sector to create realism.


Author: Dr. Sharon Burton



2. Integrated Safety and Technical Competency Training for New Oil Spill Responders


The objective of this paper is to introduce the integrated safety and technical competency training provided to new staff in Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL). Oil spill response is not only associated with generic operational risks, but also special risks due to the emergency nature of the tasks. New employees in such response organisations, depending on their years of experience and areas of previous work, have broadly varied ability in safety management. The significant number of responders recruited after the Macondo incident leads to a notable dilution of safety and technical skills within the company. This paper demonstrates how OSRL addressed this issue by using a matrix training model.


The aim of running this model is to train people into competent spill response specialists with well-built safety skills. All the new recruits are put through the training in the first year after they join the organisation. The model is divided into three stages: induction, initial training (Offline Training programme), and Approved Competency Management System (ACMS) appraisal. In each stage, safety training is incorporated at three levels. They are general technical level, specific module level and assessment level. At the general technical level, candidates receive technical training where safety aspects are added in as an important ingredient. At the specific module level, they attend training which focuses on safety topics. At the assessment level, candidates expect exams or assessment where they are formally tested on how they handle safety issues. The training forms a learning curve from awareness to performance to competence. Following this model, new responders are able to perform the role of spill response specialist in a safe manner and understand the knowledge behind it.


The training model adopted by OSRL provides a comprehensive, solid and practical approach to address the diluted safety skill issue. It has been successfully implemented and received positive feedback. The model is applicable to similar organisations, while the concept of matrix training models is applicable to a much wider area. It sets best management practice (BMP) for further implementation in the industry.


Author: Dong Xin



3. How Do We Attain and Sustain Work-Life Balance?


When we consider the issue of work-life balance, everyone questioned will have a different opinion dependent on but not limited to: their work ethics, money, family, culture and job role. In other words what you consider a good work-life balance will not be the same as someone else. So from a corporate point of view, how does a company make sure its employees are getting that balance?


Work-life balance affects the productivity and creativity of employees. Employers that support this balance show lower numbers leaving their organisation, employees who have greater pride in their company, a willingness to recommend it as a place to work and higher overall job satisfaction. As well as benefit packages, employers offer a variety of different incentives to their employeesL unsociable hours pay; compensation leave for time away from home; overtime pay; gyms at work and some companies also provide creches. So work and home begin to blend, in fact with modern technology we never truly disconnect from work, the flashing light on a Blackberry is hypnotic and begs to be looked at. At what point is it acceptable to turn it off? An evening out? During the weekend? On holiday?


To strike the right balance employers can offer a range of different programmes and initiatives, such as flexible working arrangements and telecommuting work. More proactive employers can provide compulsory leave periods, strict maximum hours and foster an environment that encourages employees not to continue working after hours. Studies show that the solution to balance lies in four components: work, home, community and self. This paper will look at the latest research into work-life balance, to attempt to discern what both employer and employee can do to achieve it and maintain it.


Author: Dr. Sharon Burton

8th Deepwater Technology Asia 2012 | 19 - 20 March 2012 | Singapore

Deepwater Exploration - Changing Expectations and Experiences


Speaker: Declan O'Driscoll


Bunkering 101 | 19 - 20 March 2012 | Singapore

The Marine Jetty Interface and Associated Hazards


Speaker: Gemma Benns


Interspill Conference 2012 | 13 - 15 March 2012 | London, UK

1) Oil Spill Contingency Planning and Technology Developments


For deepwater operations, BP developed and implemented interim internal requirements for oil spill preparedness and response in 2011, drawing on the issues arising and lessons learned from the Macondo oil spill event in the Gulf of Mexico, USA. In addition, a broader standard for oil spill preparedness and response was developed for implementation from 2012 onwards by all BP entities operating under BP's Operating Management System. These developments have potential significance for the oil industry as a whole in helping to shape industry practices, for example in the definition of oil spill planning scenarios, the formulation of response strategies and confirming a sustainable oil spill response capability for events up to and including worst case.


BP is also an active contributor to industry initiatives on improving oil spill preparedness and response matters through the American Petroleum Industry (API), the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) and the International Petroleum Industry Environment Conservation Association (IPIECA). This paper sets out the key features of BP's new oil spill preparedness and response requirements, the key issues arising in their development and positive experiences gained in their implementation, and some of the focus areas for BP in contributing to industry-wide developments through the API, OGP and IPIECA.


Authors: David White (OSRL), Craig Buckingham (BP), Richard Santner (BP)



2) Aerial Surveillance Technology and Capability



The importance of aerial surveillance has long been recognised as a critical part of spill response. Understanding the problem, knowing its location and scale is crucial for effective response. Over the years different skills and technologies have been applied to the problem and in that time a number of issues have been identified as playing a vital part in efficient surveillance and reporting:


  • It is important not to assume the best case and be unduly optimistic, the worst generally always happens.
  • It is important that experienced observers are used when carrying out surveillance.
  • It is important to be methodical in the approach to surveillance.
  • It is important to have continuity of observers to get consistency of reports.
  • It is CRITICAL to get the information in the command centre as soon as possible in a manner that decision-makers can understand.


From the above it is clear that a combination of skill, planning and technology is required to achieve the optimum results. Several oil spills in 2011 have highlighted the significance of providing accurate and timely aerial surveillance and quantification information and also the consequences of not providing this data in a user friendly format. The impact of failure and error can lead to disproportionate regulatory, public and political interest in spills that otherwise might be characterised as being minor in nature. The quest for better surveillance, quantification and reporting continues. This paper will look at some the developments and improvements in technology, planning and capability recently introduced by Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) and look at how they can benefit overall spill response delivery.


Authors: David Salt, Stuart Gair



3. GIRG 19 - Is Asia Ready?



The year 2010 witnessed one of the worst spills in the history of the oil and gas industry. The Macondo oil spill incident was an unprecedented event that resulted in economic and ecological impacts. But with the Macondo incident, the industry, government and the general public are now acutely aware of the reality of large-scale oil spill incidents with potential for massive damage. The very nature of the Macondo spill, including the scope, scale and the complexity of the response, has pushed for an advancement of oil spill preparedness and response capability for the oil exploration industry as a whole.


The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) established the Global Industry Response Group (GIRG) in July 2010 to identify, learn from and apply the lessons of Macondo and other similar spill incidents. Working closely with national and international regulators and industry associations, GIRG has developed several key recommendations, focusing on three core areas of Prevention, Intervention and Response, aimed at reducing the likelihood and consequence of a large scale incident. This paper aims to present a detailed look into the current capabilities in the Asian region with respect to the recommendations on improving the response capabilities put forward by GIRG. While presenting the existing capabilities, the paper also highlights some of the issues and challenges that are unique to the region, which may delay full implementation of the GIRG recommendations.


Authors: Lee Barber, Geeva Varghese



4. Response Operations: Is Spill Response More About Luck and Timing than Preparedness?


If a large spill occurs offshore we have many tools within the 'response arsenal' to deal with it, including natural dispersion, capping devices, in-situ burning, mechanical recovery and chemical dispersant. We use monitoring to assess the amount of oil spilt, the direction it is heading and how it is weathering. Modelling is used to evaluate the trajectory of the spill, to highlight any potential environmental and socio-economic resources that may be impacted, including beaching of the slick. But when it comes to actually responding to the oil spill, is greater success based on luck and timing?


An oil spill that occurs in 'rough' weather could be an environmental and socio-economic disaster, for example the Erika, or reduce the response required; the Atlantic Empress where a large spill was carried out to sea. Conversely a spill that occurs in 'calm' weather can help or hinder the response, the calmer conditions in the Gulf of Mexico allowed for the use of in-situ-burning as a response option, whilst the same conditions may reduce the effectiveness of chemical dispersant, as no mixing will take place. A big part of a successful response is actually down to factors beyond the responder's control.


This paper will look at past spills and show that preparedness for such an event is essential. It will also look at how response has changed over the years, and how external factors play a big part in the success or failure of a response, and why a range of response options increases the success rate.


Author: Dr. Sharon Burton



5. Regional Response Integration and OSRO Cooperation (Poster)


This poster reviews the cooperation between Oil Spill Response (OSRL) and other oil spill response organisations (OSROs) in the Asia Pacific region in the past few years, highlighting the significance of collaboration during response operations. In the past, tiered response has been widely recognised in the region where OSROs organise their capabilities to fit different scale of incidents. There are several important regional initiatives, networks, and programs focusing on the integration of these organisations. This study investigated the role of cooperation during incident response, and identifies it as a critical driving factor of the progress of the regional initiatives. Several spill cases where OSRL responded together with other response organisations are discussed, as well as the increased level and depth of preparedness activities afterwards. The results show that the mechanism and structure of regional programs set up a foundation for collaboration during response, and effective response in turn could steer the cooperation to another level.


The study summarised the achievement of regional cooperation in the past years, where joint effort in spill response operations played an important part. It provides a reference for further implementation of these initiatives, and emphasizes the value of continuous investment in regional cooperation for all the OSROs.


Author: Dong Xin



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