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Featured Insights

Insights from experienced Oil Spill Response experts


Gazing into Tomorrow's World: The Future of Remote Training

According to GlobalData, the shift to remote working triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic boosted the adoption of virtual reality (VR) by oil and gas companies for training, collaboration, and data visualisation. In this article Emily Foley, Global Training and Consultancy Manager, explores immersive technologies and the possibilities for future remote training delivery.

Author: Emily Foley


Future Gazing: The Future of Remote Training

The increase in safety standards and mitigating future risks

The 2010 Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico acted as a wake-up call for the subsea exploration industry. However, 12 years on, a Center for American Progress (CAP) review has found that oil spills and injuries from offshore drilling are on the rise.

In our latest insights article, Lee Barber discusses the forces that drive increases in safety standards and why more still needs to be done to mitigate future risks and avoid another global tragedy.

Authors: Lee Barber


Lessons Learned - The Tombstone Imperative

The reality of implementing change learnt through valuable and often painful lessons has not been as simple as first thought. Complex analysis and investigation can result in multiple recommendations. As the next energy revolution dawns, it brings new challenges and risks for producers, transporters and consumers. Will the learning processes remain valid and fit for purpose in the brave new world?

Author: Marcus Russell


Lessons learned - Tombstone Imperative

Russian Sanctions and the Law of Unintended Consequences

As the terrible events in Ukraine continue to play out, international operators such as BP, Shell, and Exxon have announced that they would exit from their Russian assets. Numerous governments have brought forward legislation to prevent imports of Russian oil and gas into their territories.

In our latest insights article, Rob James explores the oil spill risk implications of Russian sanctions as countries seek alternative supplies and Russia looks to secure customers for its oil.

Authors: Rob James


Women in Leadership - Embracing Femininity

There are fewer women in oil and gas than in almost any other major industry. In the oil and gas industry, the number of women in senior management roles at energy firms remains stubbornly low. However, there is a strong business case for diversity, inclusion and equality. Organisations with inclusion, diversity and equality central to their business strategy have a competitive advantage. This article explores the links between typically masculine, left-brain leadership and the more typically feminine and right-brain leadership behaviours. It considers how we can all, men and women, take steps to embrace the right side of the brain and the more ‘feminine’ aspects of our personalities.

Author: Gemma Littlewood 

Contributions: Emma Smillie and Bryony Wood 


Women in Leadership - Embracing Femininity

Is the offshore wind industry ready for a crisis?

Whilst the risk may not be crude oil, understanding impacts and response options for diesel, lubricants and hydraulics in the marine environment is imperative for the offshore wind industry

The offshore wind industry can learn and evolve from years of oil and gas development. The oil and gas industry has faced various crises in its history, such as Piper Alpha, Exxon Valdez, and Deepwater Horizon and is now working towards the energy transition and decommissioning phase. With these lessons in mind, how ready is the offshore wind industry for a crisis?

Authors: Rosie Howatt


Oil Spills and the Pandemic: Shared Lessons for Risk Communications

It is striking how many parallels we can draw between the Covid-19 health crisis and an oil spill response. They are both emergency response situations that can have impacts lasting months or years.

In this article, we consider one specific response option, that of dispersant use and explore the parallels and lessons learnt from the communications around the response to the pandemic in the UK and whether these can be transferred to effective dispersant communications.

Author: Andy Nicoll 


Oil Spills and the Pandemic Shared Lessons for Risk Communications

Rogue States- The Next Big Oil Spill Risk?

Can we, indeed should we, prepare (and effectively become responsible) for someone else's spill?

Rogue states such as Iran and Venezuela have long aspired to become energy superpowers but international sanctions have hugely impacted exports from these two countries. Consequently, much-needed oil and gas infrastructure investment in Iran and Venezuela is lacking, and the countries are heavily reliant on old assets.

As sanctions continue to limit experienced international personnel from bringing maintenance and good practice to bear in oil-producing states under sanctions, we have no quantification of the risk of a catastrophic event occurring in these fields.

Authors: Rob James


Why Preparing for Oiled Wildlife Emergencies Still Matters in the Energy Transition

In an operating environment with a heightened focus on the transition to renewable energy sources and the goal of net-zero carbon emissions, there is intense public pressure and expectation that environmental protection will be at the forefront of economic activities.

As government and industry look beyond oil, it is critical that environmental risk from oil spills, including wildlife impact, stays squarely in focus.

In a rapidly shifting strategic environment where the energy transition is increasingly taking centre stage, do the previous industry commitments to implementing preparedness and fully integrating wildlife response capability still matter? The short answer is yes. 

Author: Paul Kelway 


Why Preparing for Oiled Wildlife Emergencies Still matters in the Energy Transition

Plastics not so fantastic

From the first synthetic plastic, Bakelite, produced in 1907, the world has developed an insatiable appetite for plastic products. The world shipping council estimate that an average of 1,382 containers is lost overboard per annum. 

In this article Regional Director, EMEA, Rob James discusses plastics pollution and how the wealth of knowledge and expertise in the oil spill response industry should be our first port-of-call for pragmatic and effective solutions to a very real and present problem.

Authors: Rob James


Net Zero and the Implications for Emergency Planners

The Paris Agreement sets ambitious targets for limiting global warming. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions are crucial to avoid the catastrophic effects of melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, floods, droughts, and forest fires. 

The agreement's long-term goals limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels and a climate-neutral world by 2050. However, since two-thirds of GHG emissions are attributed to fossil fuel combustion, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), transitioning to clean, sustainable energy sources will govern whether the world can meet these goals. 

As the world adapts to creating a carbon-neutral future, are the challenges faced by emergency planners and responders going to be any different? 

Author: Marcus Russell 


Net Zero and Implications for emergency planners

Developing Leaders for a Crisis

In April 2010, when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon platform triggered the world's largest accidental oil spill, all eyes turned to the Gulf of Mexico and the unfolding tragedy. In his quickly appointed role as National Incident Commander (NIC), United States Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was faced with an extraordinary task: deliver the US Government's response to this unprecedented and developing crisis. 

Many consider Allen to have been instrumental in the successful response operations; however, not all leaders have the skills and mindset to cope with such a unique and challenging situation. This article explores the science behind leadership development and the mindset and skillset that Allen and others require in such complex scenarios. We also touch on how leaders should develop and nurture both mindset and skillset.

Authors: Dean Wasche and Andrew Couch


Pipelines - End of the line or a pipe dream

The world has long relied on a vast network of pipelines to move oil and gas safely. Spanning hundreds or thousands of kilometres, pipelines are recognised as the most cost-effective way of transporting crude and refined products from well to marketplace.

The drive to decarbonise will bring new fuel types and a different set of challenges for pipeline engineers in the coming years, but the phased transition to greener energy means oil and gas infrastructure will remain vital across the short to medium-term. But, what will the long-term future look like? Against a backdrop of growing public scrutiny of the environmental impact and viability of new projects, we have to ask: Is this the end of the line for pipelines?

Author: Nick Dyer 


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The topic of Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (LSFO) was thrust into the spotlight in July 2020 when the MV Wakashio vessel ran aground in Mauritius.

At the time journalists noted that this fuel is relatively new to the market, some referring to it as a ‘Frankenstein fuel’ and so in this article, we look at what we know collectively about LSFOs within the oil spill response industry, and what responders need to be aware of when potentially dealing with future LSFO incidents.

Author: Andy Nicoll


Thoughts on Balongan refinery incident

We reflect on how we think the company might structure itself for this incident and consider some critical response actions, drawing upon a previous case study. We question whether this is an incident or a crisis before discussing the company’s possible approach to probable medium/ long term issues.

At the time of writing this article, the author has had no contact with the refinery or operating company. The thoughts given below are our expert opinion and purely hypothetical on what could be happening rather than stated facts.

Author: Lee Barber 


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The Ramifications of Cost Cutting.jpg

Like many sectors, the oil and gas industry is still weathering the storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Compounding the issue, businesses across upstream, midstream, and downstream are in a state of broader transition, responding to the global shift to renewable energy and facing an increasing need to address carbon neutrality expectations.

This ongoing trend for cost-cutting raises questions around unintended consequences and the potential to impact how businesses maintain agility, operational performance, and preparedness standards with a reduced workforce and lower investment levels.

Author: Emma Smillie


Can organisations confidently and successfully protect their reputation in the event of a crisis? 

Or does commitment to moral corporate values and standards provide the best defence and opportunity of avoiding long-term reputational damage?

There are complex challenges when preparing for and handling reputational risk. The cadence of protecting a brand and its image plays a different beat than conventional emergency response.

Author: Marcus Russell 


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Gender plays a significant role in a leader’s approach but does that mean that one gender is better at leading in a crisis?

During a crisis, a leader should stand back, take an overview and delegate, communicate vision and priorities to team members, promote team spirit and information sharing, consider long-term resource requirements, and challenge assumptions.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and the subject of effective leadership – and the value of empathy – have been thrust back into the spotlight on a global scale.

Author: Rosie Buse


Are crisis planners confident that they're equipped for the next significant challenge? 

2020 was undoubtedly an extraordinary year, with each of us facing new and unique challenges.

There were well-documented failings in the global response at both an organisational and national level and leaders must, therefore, ask whether their worst-case scenario (WCS) planning and preparedness were adequate for this crisis or would be for the next.

Author: Rosie Buse


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The COVID-19 Pandmeic

Can this pandemic be used as a catalyst to strengthen the implementation of Tiered Preparedness and Response?

As England settles into its second national lockdown, other countries also continue to work to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We must embrace the ethos of continuous improvement to learn from the challenges of COVID-19, not to tear up the old, but to find ways of evolving to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Author: Paul Foley


While the Covid-19 pandemic may not directly cause oil spills, it is having a negative impact not only on the likelihood but also the consequences should one occur. 

There is a myriad of factors to consider when coordinating a responder-dependent response during a pandemic.

With any response, technology and politics can overcome many obstacles. Ultimately success, however it is measured, comes down to people: individuals who understand the risks, are well cared for both physically and mentally, and are well supported to make a bad situation better than it otherwise would be.

Author: Andy Nicoll


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Preparing for a Grey Rhino Event

The Shipping Industry has gone beyond ‘Black Swans’ and is now on the lookout for ‘Grey Rhinos’ – should you be too?

No business operates in a vacuum. Instead, we are all part of a complex and competitive ecosystem – beholden to market dynamics and shifts in public attitudes that are largely beyond our control.

The shipping industry is not exempt from these external forces and must constantly adapt; whether to new regulatory requirements or other, more singular and individual levers.

Author: James Tan


Remote, Low Carbon, Efficient. Responding to oil spills in a post pandemic virtual world.

The perceived wisdom is that we cannot make the right decisions without boots on the ground.

Around the world corporations and individuals are being challenged to reduce their carbon footprint and international air travel is a key focus.

If we can get just four things right, then remote incident management could become a reality.

Authors: Rob James, Daniel White


Is It Time To Say Goodbye To the Cavalry

Thoughts on improving preparedness, overcoming response challenges & increasing spill risks due to extreme weather events

Covid-19, Climate Change and Remote Locations: Challenging Times for Oil Spill Prevention and Response

Events such as the recent spill in Norilsk, Russia have highlighted that some organisations are missing key risks when designing systems to prevent and respond to oil spills. It is incumbent on all operators to ensure they continuously review their risk profile and consider changing or emerging risks such as climate change and the current pandemic, particularly in remote locations where any response is inevitably complex.

How could more extensive preparedness enable companies to imagine the unimaginable caused by unprecedented climate change?

Authors: Fiona Carson, Marcus Russell