Comprehensive Program Needed to Address US Arctic Oil Spill Risk

Oil spill research priorities should leverage existing joint agreements and be address through a “comprehensive, coordinated effort” that links industry, government, academia, international and local experts, and non-government organizations, NRC said in the report. NRC also recommended that the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research, which is responsible for coordinating oil spill research and development among agencies and other partners, should head up the oil spill research effort.

“Industry takes the subject of safe operations and protection of the environment in the Arctic seriously,” API said in an April 23 statement to Rigzone. “We’re encouraged by the report’s emphasis on the need for the full toolbox of spill response technologies to be available in the event of an incident, because – as the report says – no single technique can be guaranteed to work in all situations.”

API said it supports the report’s call for collaboration in research, openness to sharing data and research findings, its emphasis on prevention, its call for support for an increased Coast Guard presence and capability in the Arctic, and for pursuit of oil spill research that includes a program of controlled releases of oil under careful protocols so that government, the public and industry can get the information necessary to assure the best possible spill response capability in the Arctic environment.

“We look forward to working with the NRC, federal and state government representatives, and other stakeholders to ensure that we have an appropriate, effective and efficient system in place to prevent, mitigate and respond to spills in the Arctic,” API said.

Industry and academia continue to research Arctic oil spill technology as the global oil and gas industry turns its attention to Arctic exploration and production. One oil and gas industry-led effort is the Arctic Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Programme, which was launched in January 2012 to examine the effectiveness of existing oil spill response technology.

A ‘tremendous amount’ of oil spill recovery research currently is taking place at Ohmsett, BSEE’s National Oil Spill Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility, in addition to the ongoing work with BSEE’s international partners through the Arctic Council, said BSEE’s Alaska Region Director Mark Fesmire during an April 17 panel discussion in Washington D.C. on applying lessons learned in Arctic drilling. Fesmire said that BSEE is committed to ensuring that Arctic drilling operations, if they occur, will be done safely.


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