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How We Respond To Oil Spills and Work To Prevent Marine Pollution Worldwide

Monday, August 7, 2023

How we respond to oil spills and work to prevent marine pollution worldwide

The power of collaboration can protect our oceans. We must all commit to preventing pollution and conserving marine resources for future generations through oil spill response and more.

The ocean is a vital source of life and a cornerstone of our planet’s ecosystems. It feeds billions of people, covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface and provides 80% of the world’s biodiversity. At Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), we recognise the incredible importance of our ocean and the need to conserve its wonderful marine resources for future generations. Many of our people are marine biologists, deeply passionate about protecting marine life.


Protecting our oceans through global oil spill response

Founded through a spirit of cooperation nearly 40 years ago, we are a global spill response organisation owned by our members, bringing together the world’s leading oil companies and the wider industry to support pollution prevention. Our mission is to provide our members with resources to prepare for and respond to oil spills efficiently and effectively on a global basis.


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Urgently responding to oil spills to combat pollution

Over the last three decades, we have attended over 400 spills, actively responding to spills that have impacted a wide range of environmentally sensitive areas like mangroves and marshlands.

Our involvement spans many types of spills — from shipping incidents, such as the MSC Chitra spill in India to port spills, such as the spill from the vessel-jetty collision in Rotterdam. We are committed to working with our members, partners and stakeholders to develop good practices and share knowledge to ensure a healthy and sustainable planet for future generations.


"In addition to our work on oil spills, we have utilised our extensive experience to combat other forms of pollution, such as plastic pollution."


Using oil spill expertise to respond to a range of emergencies

In addition to our work on oil spills, we have utilised our extensive experience to combat other forms of pollution, such as plastic pollution. Recently, we were able to lend our expertise to the response effort of the X-Press Pearl incident, involving a sinking container ship off the coast of Sri Lanka — causing a serious plastic pollution problem. Our team worked closely with local authorities and partners to develop and implement effective response strategies, utilising the same tools and techniques we use in oil spill response.

In 2022, we launched the GOWRS Oiled Wildlife Assessment Service, a ready-to-deploy four-person team delivered by a network of 10 leading wildlife response organisations. We are proud to play a part in making this service available to our members. 

We are also collaborating with the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation and their partners on developing emergency response procedures for ammonia — a potential future fuel for the shipping industry. We continue to innovate and take the valuable lessons we’ve learned with oil spills and apply them to save the ocean and support our members in their wider businesses.


Collaborative efforts for effective spill response and good practice

Developing good practices is crucial to our work with the industry. By working collaboratively to identify and promote good practices, we can minimise the risk of oil spills and ensure that the industry is operating to the highest environmental standards.

Our good practice work covers a wide range of topics, including response planning, preparedness and the use of technology in oil spill response. We are working on a good practice guide for responding to plastic pollution, which will be published soon.

I am honoured to lead such a dedicated and passionate team at OSRL. Together, we are committed to protecting the environment and working to prevent pollution. The tides are changing, and together, we can make a positive difference in protecting our ocean and its precious resources.


Article as featured in New Scientist

Image source: Vessel - iStock / Getty Images Plus / Suphanat Khumsap via Global Cause

Author Bio(s)

Vania De Stefani

Chief Executive Officer

Vania has spent over 20 years in the oil and gas business with professional experience in engineering, operations and process safety. Vania began her career at Imperial College as the head of the scientific team developing fire and explosion models. She continued to become an executive and has spent the majority of her career working for BP, most recently as the Vice President of Operations for Mauritania and Senegal. She has worked in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East while leading teams that were geographically and culturally diverse. Vania played a key role in the response to the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico and has led operational crises in other regions. In 2023 she was appointed CEO of Oil Spill Response Limited.

Vania holds a Master's degree in Process Engineering from the University of Padua and a PhD in Thermophysics from Ecole Nationale Superieure de Mines de Paris.