ASC conducts annual oil spill drill

Source: Aramco Services Co. 

Aramco Services Co. (ASC), together with Vela International Marine Limited, leveraged their oil spill response capabilities and resources March 7 and 8 at ASC’s annual oil spill response and salvage drill. The event – which satisfied federal requirements – was an opportunity to practice the company’s response plan as part of a continuous effort to strengthen the ASC spill management team.

More than 150 people participated as part of the Oil Spill Response Team (OSRT), including representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office (TGLO), the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO), as well as ASC, Vela, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Petroleum International, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife, among others.

“The close cooperation between our partners and government agencies was vital in our planning and implementation efforts throughout the drill,” said Wayne Hollingsworth, supervisor of ASC’s Environmental Services Unit and the company’s regional oil spill coordinator.

“Each year, the drill draws on the talent of employees throughout the enterprise who as a team work to ensure that the company’s response effort is the highest caliber in all areas,” said Majid Alghaslan, ASC Technical Services manager.

“As the legally designated responsible party required for vessels operating in U.S. waters, ASC plays a critical role, but it’s about more than that; it’s about representing the company as a valuable partner with a commitment to safe operations.”

The drill simulated a Vela vessel hull breach in a simulated accident in the Gulf of Mexico lightering area called the South Sabine Pass, about 70 miles offshore of Port Arthur, Texas.

OSRT participants established a field command post in Beaumont, Texas, and activated a Unified Command to coordinate the response while also ensuring the safety of responders and mitigating the effects of the simulated spill on environment and wildlife.

Tactics were considered and plans developed for containment and cleanup, which included use of dispersants, in-situ burning, skimming, booming and other response methods.

A marine salvage/firefighting response was also a component of this year’s drill. Participating from Dubai, Vela naval architects and marine superintendents considered critical aspects, provided recommendations and participated in real time, supplying information as it was needed throughout the simulation.

A comprehensive salvage and lightering plan was submitted to and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

With the simulated spill showing possible impact on either Texas or Louisiana, the OSRT developed responses for the environment, wildlife and sensitive shorelines. This included working with Louisiana’s state archeologist to identify key archeological sites that might need protection, depending on the trajectory of the spilled oil.

“My observation of this year’s drill was that there was a great deal of knowledge-sharing and skill sharpening,” said Ali Mohssen, Saudi Aramco’s global oil spill director. “It was a real team effort.”

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