THE UK Spill Association returned to more normal levels of activity last year following a 2010 that was shaped by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
In terms of participation in post Deepwater Horizon activities, the Oil Spill Response and Advisory Group (OSPRAG) concluded its review and set up legacy groups, the association’s annual report pointed out. One of those groups, the Oil Spill Response Forum, invited UKSpill to become a permanent member in late 2011.
OSPRAG identified a need for trained and experienced spill responders as an important part of the armoury and the role of the UK Spill Contractors Accreditation Scheme is expected to become more important. A new project, the Accredited responder Management System, is being led by UKSpill and will be introduced this year in association with Oil & Gas UK to support shoreline clean-up in the event of an offshore blow-out.
Over the years the accreditation scheme has been upgraded and with the backing of the various interested agencies, this has been reflected in a steady growth in numbers of accredited companies. The scheme suffered a loss in late 2010 when its independent assessor died suddenly and a temporary replacement was appointed. However, over 2010-2011 this arrangement did not work as well as hoped and it became obvious that a new approach was necessary, leading last year to the assessor team being bolstered by two former Environment Agency officers to bring the team strength up to four.
The annual report also highlighted that in December 2011, the first verification workshop was held in Northern Ireland to launch regional checks for multiple companies in addition to site visits for individual companies. The new move was deemed successful and is now being rolled out this year.
The association also flagged up its hosting (in March) of Interspill 2012 in London, based on a co-location with Oceanology International. UKSpill has been involved in managing the event and reported a “high level” of input from members with the result that exhibition sales are 40% higher than in 2009.
Also on the event calendar UKSpill, as an accredited trade organisation, secured funding from the government for member companies to attend the International Oil Spill Conference 2011 in Portland, Oregon in May, and also the new event, Oil Spill India.