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.


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Indonesian Petroleum Association Luncheon Talk
22 November 2012 | Jakarta, Indonesia

Oil Spills: Changing Landscape, Changing Response



The Montara and Macondo oil spills by their unexpectedness and proximity in time have significantly changed the understanding on how oil spills occur and impact our society and environment. While spills from maritime transportation have a fixed volume, upstream spills can continue unabated until relief efforts are successful. Transportation oil spills have been subject to major scrutiny and initiatives over the last 25 years yet little attention has been given to the specific preparedness and response issues of an upstream incident.


Globally, our industry faces increasing regulatory oversight due to environmental concerns as the search for new reserves moves into deeper water in more sensitive and often remote environments. The onus is on industry to demonstrate preparedness and response capability that is sufficiently robust and adequate to deal with a well control incident and that meets not just meets but exceeds government and community expectations.


E&P operators in the last 2 years have been preparing and responding to upstream well control incidents in a much different way. In terms of preparedness, this includes greater engagement with regulators through the planning ‘life cycle', exercises that better integrate national and international resources and ongoing strengthening of ICS (Incident Command Structure) capability internally. For response, the activation of resources is occurring more quickly, is more extensive and the resources are being maintained on location for a longer period. Technology, such as satellite imagery and modeling, is being used to better monitor the status and fate of a spill as well as providing frequent updates to regulators and media.


This presentation will provide an overview of the oil industry's response to Macondo and Montara with case studies to demonstrate how changes are occurring in practice.


Speaker(s): Declan O' Driscoll

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Clean Gulf Conference 2012
13 - 15 November 2012 | New Orleans, USA

1) Knowledge Sharing Throughout the Wider Response Community


Following the Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico there has been a torrent of investment in new technologies and methodologies into the practical ways of responding to oil spills.  In particular the inevitable focus on how to respond to an uncontrolled and potentially ongoing release of oil from a loss of well control has challenged conventional response techniques and practices.  Prior to this, existing response equipment and practices have evolved over 40 years of facing primarily ship-sourced spill risks using technologies that were developed by oil companies who transport and process oil, oil spill response organisations (OSROs) and the manufacturers of the tools that the OSROs need.


Under the Global Industry Response Group (“GIRG”) three oil industry-led task forces have been established to consider the lessons learned from Macondo and make recommendations in areas of incident prevention, well intervention and oil spill response, respectively.  In respect of oil spill response, a Joint Industry Project (JIP) has been established to fund and provide governance to the implementation of 19 specific recommendations.


But how do these lessons–learned and the consequential improvements in response technologies which are now demanded get promulgated throughout the wider community of stakeholders including governments, the international oil industry, the OSROs and the hardware (and software) manufacturers?  Existing mechanisms such as the Industry Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC) and the OPRC HNS Technical Group of the International Maritime Organization must evolve to meet the challenges of the new paradigm.


This paper explores the web of organisations that comprise the Wider Response Network.  It will look at how manufacturers, equipment end-users and their wider stakeholders in government and industry, encourage innovation to develop the technical tools needed from the bottom up and from the top down with the shared aim to improve response effectiveness through knowledge sharing.


Author(s): Andrew Nicoll


2) Introduction to OSCAR, the Oil Spill Contingency and Response 3D Modelling Tool


As the exploration for resources moves into deeper waters, the oil and gas industry faces an increased risk of a sub-surface oil spill occurring. A number of computer based 2-dimensional models already exist for simulating releases of oil onto the surface of the water and Oil Spill Response Ltd have traditionally used these types of models to support the industry in the areas of spill preparedness and response; but this presentation looks at one of the recent developments in modelling software specifically designed to include what is occurring below the surface of the water. This is the 3-diamenional modelling program and the type used as a base for this discussion is the Oil Spill Contingency and Response (OSCAR) system developed by Sintef. This presentation will provide a high level introduction into 3-dimensional modelling and will examine the following aspects involved in the general modelling process: " How predicting the movement, behaviour and environmental impact of the oil spill moving through the water column contributes towards to an effective response. " How 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional models differ and, based on practical experience in using both of these tools in preparedness and response operations, what the capabilities, benefits and restrictions are for each model type. " When to carry out modelling and the importance of completing 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional pre and post spill modelling. " Understanding the results generated by OSCAR and how Incident Management Teams can use this data helps to support and guide their response operations. " The benefits of applying different response strategies in OSCAR and evaluating their effectiveness. The presentation will conclude with a look at likely future developments to modelling programs.


Author(s): Tristan Barston

Arctic Oil Spill Conference 2012
29 - 30 October 2012 | London, UK

Developing a contingency plan

Author(s): Kirstin Taylor, Rosie Buse

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Oil Spill India Conference 2012
13 - 15 September 2012 | Goa, India

Changing needs in initial oil spill responder training and exercises

Author(s): Nicola Jackson, Melany Carter-Groves

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SPE APPEA International HSE Conference 2012
11 - 13 September 2012 | Perth, Australia

1) Behavioural safety - Human factors


Behavioural safety is part of a natural progression of safety management from highly prescriptive approaches through the engineered or procedural systems which most progressive companies have long since established, to a system which recognises workers as mature human beings with a genuine interest in their own wellbeing who contribute best when they can see that they themselves have an influence on their own safety. This paper will look at best practices and how both employers and employees can influence the human factor, by examining how we can reinforce safe behaviours or good habits and removing or reducing unsafe ones. 


Author(s): Dr. Sharon Burton

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2) Designing capability for offshore response


In different parts of the world, oil spill preparedness and response is approached in different ways. This variance in approach is particularly apparent in the design and development of capability for offshore response. Usually, the rationale behind offshore capability design may include either quantitative or qualitative criteria, or a combination of the two as well as prescriptive legal requirements. This paper will take a closer look at the different approaches adopted by various countries for defining oil spill response capability, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Author(s): Geeva Varghese, Lee Barber

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3) Health and safety risk management


Oil spill responders are often required to work in diverse and challenging environments. The effective management of health and safety risks is thus crucial, not only to ensure the safety and wellbeing of personnel, but also to ensure that a response can be successfully carried out.

This paper presents the comprehensive approach adopted by OSRL to address conventional health and safety risks as well as unconventional threats posed by global terrorism, regional unrest and devastation from natural disasters. This is a cornerstone of ‘response readiness’ to ensure service delivery by OSRL as an international Tier 3 oil spill response organisation. 


Author(s): Lee Nai Ming


4) Work stress and fatigue in oil spill response


This paper highlights the often neglected areas of health and safety during a spill response pertaining to worker stress and fatigue and to determine strategies that can be employed by both individuals and organisations to address these issues. The paper aims to stimulate discussion within the oil spill response community regarding how best to ensure worker stress and fatigue issues do not adversely affect operational capabilities during sustained responses. This is important not only to maximise human resources enabling them to reach their full capabilities but to fulfil the duty of care which an organisation should hold to protect the welfare of its response personnel.


Author(s): Dawn Gibson

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5) The use of geographical information systems (GIS) in oil spill preparedness and response


Utilising GIS can greatly improve the efficiency of oil spill contingency planning. Hazards and risks can be pre-determined and strategies developed to mitigate the impacts of potential oil spills. Geographic information can be overlaid and interrogated to illustrate a range of information relevant for an oil spill or for preparedness activities. The paper will expand of all these topics and use recent case studies to demonstrate the benefits of GIS in both preparedness activities and actual responses. 


Author(s): Lucy Aukett

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6) Monitoring and quantifying oil pollution using aerial surveillance - Problems and solutions


One of the biggest challenges in oil spill response is the quantification and observation of the spilled oil. Both aspects are important from an operational and a regulatory perspective. Over the years various tools have been used to achieve this goal, but there are limitations in capability. The task of surveillance is not a simple one, skilled observers are needed to identify oil from false targets.  Mission planning, data capture, high speed data transfer and communication plays a crucial part in the operations. The paper will consider some of the issues and problems of conducting aerial surveillance and demonstrate how one solution has been implemented in the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. 


Author(s): David Salt, Emma Hughes, Stuart Gair

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7) Rena case history


On 5 October 2011, the 47,000-tonne container ship MV Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe reef approximately 17km west of the Port of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. The vessel spilt 360 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from a potential 1,700 tonnes and was New Zealand’s first major maritime environmental incident.

This case study will address the unique circumstances and operational complications specific to this spill together with the subsequent learning outcomes. These include the integration and the inclusion of the local Maori population at all command levels of the response, and previously untested wildlife response methods. Further challenges included managing a large local volunteer work force.


Author(s): Jamie Anderson

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East Asia Seas Congress 2012
9 - 13 July 2012 | Changwon, South Korea

Macondo Well - Deepwater Horizon Blowout - Lessons Learned and Recent Developments

Speaker(s): Declan O'Driscoll

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36th IPA Convention & Exhibition
23 - 25 May 2012 | Jakarta, Indonesia

An Evaluation of Preparedness and Response Capability to a Deepwater Oil Spill Release in Indonesia


Deepwater exploration and production is fast becoming an important component in Indonesia’s oil and gas industry. There is a strong thrust from government for increasing the offshore exploration and production activities to meet the growing domestic and international demand for oil and gas. As with any exploration and production activities, there are challenges and difficulties and the deepwater sector is no different. In fact, the technical challenges of deepwater drilling are even greater as deeper waters add greater complexity (and thereby added risk) to oil exploration and production operations. Similarly, responding to an oil spill from a deepwaterrelease is a major undertaking for any oil company. While some of the lessons from the Macondo spill incident are still being learnt, this incident has undoubtedly served as a game-changer and a wake-up call to the global oil and gas industry to continuously strengthen the oil spill response, planning and capacity.


This paper will explore the response strategies for responding to a deepwater subsea release based on information developed by the U.S. Joint Industry Task Force (JITF), a working group established by the International Oil and Gas Producer: Global Industry Response Group (GIRG) and the UK Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG).  It will also discuss the application of these strategies in the Indonesian context and identify areas for improvement that may exist within the current national oil spill response and preparedness capability.


It is not the objective of this paper to set an industry standard in Indonesia. However, what the authors hope to achieve out of this study is to create awareness and to provide options to industry as to what we can do to better prepare ourselves for any future major events that could occur. The authors believe that by knowing our limitations, we can seek to improve our readiness and capability.


Authors: Ahmad Nazri, Ho Yei Ling, Ignatius Harta, Patricia Njoto

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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


Petroleum Association of Japan Symposium 2012 | 7 March 2012 | Tokyo, Japan

Preparedness for Oil Spills - New Challenges for the Oil Industry and for the Responder Community


This presentation considers the best practice for building and maintaining oil spill preparedness in the light of major changes to the planning regime necessitated primarily by the 2010 Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico, as seen through the eyes of a Tier 3 response organisation.


Speaker: Andrew Nicoll

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11th International Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference | 24 - 28 January 2012 | New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

The Oil Industry's Support to Oiled Wildlife Response and Preparedness - The Role of a Tier 3 Provider (poster)


Oil Spill Response Limited has worked in cooperation with the wildlife NGO Sea Alarm Foundation to collectively address oiled wildlife response issues and married their individual strengths, capabilities and resources to bring a new approach to oiled wildlife response. Preparedness and response activities to oiled wildlife will be enhanced and improved globally via the establishment of a database of Country Wildlife Response Profiles, a pool of international experts for wildlife response, equipment stockpiles at aviation secure bases worldwide and development of wildlife response plans in co-operation with recognised international groups.


To date this unique cooperation has resulted in some important breakthroughs in the field of oil spill response preparedness, basically a higher recognition from governments and industry of the need to develop wildlife response plans increase institutional preparedness. Industry in particular have been receptive to the development of stand-alone oiled wildlife response plans with one oil major going as far as to include the requirement for having an oiled wildlife plan for all new exploration projects. Oiled wildlife response is also increasingly seen as a 'test element' for industry spill exercises. This poster will provide evidence of these developments and serve as an update on the six- year programme to date.


Author: Dr. Rob Holland

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