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Gettyimages 544673180

Development of Response Information for Offshore Oil Spills in Area Contingency Plans

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Client: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)

Location: Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and California

Services Provided: Database development, Oil Spill Modeling in open water and in ice, Government Oil Spill Response Planning, Stakeholder Engagement

RPS leads this project funded by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to develop offshore response information for Area Contingency Plans (ACPs). The need for this work arose following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the largest oil spill in United States history. The government Incident Specific Preparedness Review (ISPR) conducted on the response found that ACPs did not contain adequate information on offshore Worst-Case Discharge (WCD) scenarios, a response resource inventory, a description of the offshore oil and gas infrastructure, an offshore Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI), and offshore Concept of Operations (CONOPS), or offshore Response Strategies. RPS leads a team of eight highly qualified subcontractors to complete this work that is divided into three regions of the United States with significant oil and gas infrastructure on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) – Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and Pacific.

The work in each region is broken into eight tasks. RPS is working with BSEE, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), US Coast Guard (USCG), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), state and local agencies, and Oil Spill Removal Organizations (OSROs) to ensure that the response planning information developed for this project is in line with existing plans and procedures. Extensive stakeholder, both in person and virtual, was required for this project. Meetings were held with federal, state, and local government agencies, industry, trustees, and citizen groups to select WCD scenarios and to build the regions’ Concept of Operations (CONOPS).

The Gulf of Mexico phase of the project is complete with all products available here. The Alaska phase began in March 2022 and will be completed in December 2023. The project will end in the Pacific, specifically in southern California, for a 7-month period concluding in May of 2024. The Pacific phase will officially kick off in September 2023. The content developed from this project is included on BSEE’s website and will be either referenced or included in the applicable Regional Contingency Plans (RCPs) and ACPs. The Task 5 and Task 6 information will be added to NOAA’s Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA).

Bp Northstar Large (003)
Credit: Alaska North Slope facility in ice from BSEE.
Gettyimages 544673180