Preparedness, Preparation and Response
Spill Prevention and Response
An Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) is the last link in the chain for exploring safely and responsibly. The creation and maintenance of a viable spill plan adheres to international standards and complies with licence requirements. The OSRP will provide procedures and protocols on how to deal with an emergency situation involving an oil spill and will identify priorities and methods of protection. Ultimately it is a tool to condition any organisation to an effective response, defining the key actions to be implemented, by who and when. Key components of the Oil Spill Response Plan will be educated by the results of oil spill simulation studies of the worst case outcomes.
The Company has focused on environmental and safety related studies to support its response priorities. The long-term oil spill simulation already carried out by Bahamas Petroleum Company and contained in the EIA, illustrated the potential distribution of oil in the unlikely event a spill were to occur, quantifying the probability and impact of potential oil particle landings on specific locations surrounding the project area. The model incorporated the prevailing weather conditions each day over a seven-year period from January 2004 to December 2010 inclusive of ocean currents, prevailing winds, seafloor bathymetry and oil properties to predict the movement of oil particles in these all-embracing conditions. This comprehensive study concludes categorically that taking into account conceivable ambient conditions virtually no spilled oil would reach Bahamas beaches and the main focus of preparedness would need to be biased towards intervention between well site, the Cuban mainland and Cuban barrier islands – see right. This information is invaluable for pre-planning of potential cleanup response activities and in June, these results were presented to the Cuban Ambassador, followed by a visit to Cuba to facilitate coordinated response capabilities and process.
A major requirement of the OSRP is the creation of Environmental Sensitivity (ES) Maps and Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) Maps. The ES and ESI maps provide a concise summary of coastal resources that may be at risk if a spill were to occur having already identified biological resources, sensitive shorelines, human use resources and support infrastructure such as ports and airports. Normally, these maps are provided by Government but in this instance, Bahamas Petroleum Company has created these maps for the areas that are assessed as highly sensitive within the immediate area of the proposed drill site. The ESI maps are used to plan ahead of time by identifying vulnerable locations, establish protection priorities and identify clean-up strategies to be used by responders to meet the main objectives of reducing the environmental impacts of any spill and best directing clean-up efforts. There is a long-standing, internationally recognised system employed for categorising and structuring levels of oil spill preparedness and response. It has been developed as a means to ensure that an appropriate response capability is available to deal with oil spills commensurate with assessed risks. Consequently, in the event of any spill occurring, a managed tiered response would be implemented by the Company as outlined below:
- Tier 1 (small operational release, local in extent, small in scale)
drill rig and support vessels will maintain equipment for (containment and dispersant) and crews will be trained in the use of this equipment.
- Tier 2 (more dispersed release, regional in extent, modest in scale)
responder organisation would assist rig and support vessels with providing response equipment (Oil Spill Response Limited).
- Tier 3 (widespread release, international or to areas remote in extent, large in scale)
responder organisation would provide extensive response equipment (Oil Spill Response Limited) coordination required ‘internationally’.
All maritime vessels will be required to have a Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) as per the MARPOL 73/78 requirement under Annex I. The SOPEP describes how to tackle various oil spill scenarios that can occur off a ship, steps and procedures to contain any discharge of oil into the sea and specific alert/notification protocols. To ensure an immediate and effective response in the event of a major oil spill, Bahamas Petroleum Company is already a member of a Tier III responders’ organisation (Oil Spill Response Group – formerly Clean Caribbean Americas) that provides direct expertise, specialist personnel, equipment delivery – support and maintenance – as well as required training. The personnel and equipment can be mobilised immediately to arrive well within 24-48 hours based out of Fort Lauderdale. Additionally, each of the available vessels will be equipped with response equipment and staff trained in its use. Additional studies/work completed or underway includes:
- Completed assessment of sea bottom and shallow subsea drilling hazards associated with possible drill sites utilising the multi beam and 3D seismic data completed by GEMS Inc.
- Completed Geologic and Stratigraphic Assessment of Bain, Cooper and Donaldson Licence areas Offshore Bahamas sea bottom and shallow subsea drilling hazard evaluation of possible drill sites based on the multibeam and 3D seismic data completed by GEMS Inc.
- Completed an evaluation of the sea bottom over a large portion of our southern licence area based on the multibeam data.
- Contracted with Acorn International to produce technical sections of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
- Contracted with The Response Group to input to the Oil Spill Response Plan.
Probability of the maximum extent of oil sheen on the sea surface after a 60 day unconfirmed or mitigated spill at the sea floor (1,600m³/day).
Source: Contracted report (2011). Results submitted to Government – EIA appendix.
% of oil released making shoreline, remainder either evaporated or biodegraded.
Currently, The Bahamas generates 100% of its electricity using fossil fuels, which requires the movement of petroleum products throughout the islands – adding risk and cost to the generation of power.
Due to The Bahamas being an archipelago and having scattered and relatively small settlements, it would be more efficient to generate electricity at site where many options are available, including the harnessing of renewable energy such as solar, tide or wind. However, such options are currently extremely expensive when compared to the use of fossil fuels. But in the event of successful oil development and thence production revenues the premium cost of such energy generation could be overcome.
There are several examples worldwide in the industry whereby simply because a nation is a producer of fossil fuels it does not automatically mean this fuel is used domestically or electricity be generated solely from this source