Environmental Policy News

BSEE Conducts Inspection, Unannounced Exercise and Equipment Deployment in Pacific Ocean

As part of its mission to protect the environment and ensure that offshore oil and gas operators are prepared to respond rapidly and effectively to oil spills, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement conducted a Government Initiated Unannounced Exercise (GIUE) on Aug. 26 that included an oil spill response equipment deployment at the ExxonMobil Las Flores Canyon Facility in Goleta, California.

GIUEs are an important tool that provide BSEE the opportunity to evaluate an operator’s access to necessary resources and to test the effectiveness, performance, and viability of oil spill response plans, oil spill equipment, and spill management recovery vessels.

The one-day exercise required ExxonMobil to respond to a simulated oil spill from a subsea pipeline connected to the company’s Platform Harmony located about six miles offshore and included oil spill response professionals from U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Transportation, California Coastal Commission, and the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CA OSPR).

“This exercise required close collaboration and partnership between federal and state organizations that have mutual responsibilities for regulating the offshore industry,” said Robert Zaragoza, BSEE Oil Spill Preparedness Division exercise designer and controller. “BSEE and the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding in March 2022 to partner closely on oil spill preparedness issues and activities, and BSEE’s invitation to CA OSPR to participate in this GIUE supports this commitment.”

BSEE and its interagency partners focused on several objectives during the GIUE. These include assessing the operator’s ability to make timely notifications to emergency officials, mobilize and organize staff to respond to the spill, plan for and implement shoreline protection and oil recovery strategies, and establish effective communications within a Unified Command.

“Government Initiated Unannounced Exercises are designed to give BSEE the opportunity to evaluate, on a no-notice basis, the response preparedness posture of the offshore exploration and production community,” said Zaragoza. “These exercises provide an opportunity to ensure everyone is prepared in and event requiring emergency response.”

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