Oil spill response — competency and training

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 2: 2017

Titleholders rely on their personnel to initiate planned procedures in the event of an oil spill. This requires a level of judgement that can only be executed if personnel have the appropriate training and competency. Lessons learned from historical oil spills have shown us that a lack of trained and competent personnel hampers response efforts. This is because of delayed or inappropriate implementation of response measures, causing increased exposure of oil to the environment.

Over the last 12 months, NOPSEMA inspected a sample of titleholder processes and procedures for ensuring personnel with key roles in oil spill management were appropriately trained and their skills were maintained. These inspections allowed us to form a picture of training and competency standards for oil spill response across the offshore petroleum industry.

NOPSEMA inspectors discovered a shortfall in training and competency levels with some, but not all, of the inspected titleholders. Therefore, it is unlikely that these people would be able to execute a titleholder’s oil spill response plans and procedures quickly and effectively.

It is unreasonable to expect a single titleholder to establish and maintain sufficiently trained personnel to staff a large oil spill response from within their organisation. The expectation is that a small and immediate response capacity is maintained within, with reliance placed on shared industry resources for the remainder. If we extrapolate these sampled results to the wider industry, NOPSEMA is concerned that there may not be sufficient resources to rely upon in some instances. It takes time to build the capacity and resources required, and with individual titleholders allowing their standards to slide, this may have a long-term impact on the industry.

NOPSEMA inspectors made specific recommendations and issued enforcement notices, where required, to ensure that titleholders can appropriately respond to oil spills. The recommendations included:

• Ensure that all personnel rostered to undertake nominated spill response roles had completed relevant training.

• Develop and implement systems, practices and procedures for ensuring training and competency activities continue to meet the environmental performance outcomes within their environment plans.

NOPSEMA will continue to monitor the implementation of training and competency commitments in environment plans, as well as in the industry as a whole, to ensure that training and competency standards for oil spill response are maintained.