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Oil & Gas UK Signs International Emergency Response Arrangement

A major international offshore emergency response arrangement has been strengthened, updated and signed-up to again by six oil and gas trade associations, including Oil & Gas UK.

OCES (Operators' Cooperative Emergency Services) is a joint declaration among the national oil and gas trade associations of the UK, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and the Irish Republic. The arrangement means operating companies can call on each other for support in emergency situations - regardless of national boundaries.

This help could involve the use of specialist services, equipment or vessels. In terms of severity, the emergency would be one category below a Mayday distress situation, which all vessel captains and offshore installation managers already have an international duty to respond to.

OCES has been in place since 1979 and reviewed periodically since. However, in the immediate aftermath of the Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) recommended a new review of the arrangement.

Oil & Gas UK's operations director, Paul Dymond, said:

"OCES is a unique arrangement which facilitates companies helping each other out in times of need, right across the North West European offshore arena.

"It is now clearer and - while it is not a legally binding agreement - it sets out the principles under which co-operative emergency services to offshore oil and gas operations may be provided quickly and efficiently.

"OCES has never had to be used in the 30 years or so of its existence, but is tested through regular exercises, the last of which was run in May 2011.

"These exercises will continue and Oil & Gas UK and our five international partners are committed to upholding and promoting the OCES arrangement to our member companies."

Published 16/01/2012

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