"If there is a spill, we want to make sure we respond as fast as possible and do the right things."

- Todd Yetman

The offshore oil and gas industry is a vital part of the Newfoundland and Labrador economy and focusing on the safety of workers and the environment is a top priority.

One example of the industry's focus on the environment is in the area of spill response.

The industry's first priority, when it comes to oil spills, is to do everything possible to prevent spills from occurring. Operators do this through maintaining equipment, continuous monitoring, and training. To be prepared for the unlikely event of a subsea or surface spill, Operators have established an Offshore Oil Spill Response Preparedness Program. This Program ensures that Operators have the capacity to respond to spills quickly and efficiently, while also protecting first responders and the environment. The Program supports response preparedness through spill response training, spill equipment maintenance, and development of response protocols.ย  Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC), one of four certified Response Organizations in Canada, administers the Program on behalf of the Operators.

With its largest response centre (1 of 6) located in Mount Pearl, NL, ECRC ensures that Operator-owned, world-class spill response equipment is ready to be mobilized at a moment's notice. Two such pieces of response equipment are the Norlense Containment Boom and the Transrec Skimmer System. These oil containment and recovery tools work hand-in-hand to contain and collect oil safely and efficiently. Through quick mobilization, this equipment can be moved from ECRC's Mount Pearl location to NL's offshore basins in just under 24 hours.

Once on site, the 400m Norlense Boom is deployed using a lead tow vessel, and a primary recovery vessel. With the boom towed by the two vessels, it forms a j-shaped, wide-swath sweep system. The two vessels maneuver to intersect floating oil on the sea surface and corral it within the boom. Once enough oil has collected in the boom, the Transrec Skimmer System is deployed to pump the collected oil into storage tanks onboard the recovery vessel. These specialized tools are leading edge and are the global standard for offshore oil spill response. However, they are just two of the tools that the local offshore industry can call on in the event of an emergency. ECRC has a variety of spill response tools at its disposal and additional spill response equipment is also stored offshore on production facilities and supply vessels. Operators also have contracts with global spill response providers to access additional equipment as needed.

Through preparedness comes confidence. By directly focusing on rigorous training, continuous improvement and partnerships with organizations like ECRC, local teams can respond effectively and adhere to all regulations, should a spill occur. Of course, all of these resources stand at the ready in the hope that they are never needed.

Contributor bio

Man wearing glasses looking into the distance

Todd Yetman, Manager, Offshore Preparedness
Eastern Canada Response Corporation

Todd Yetman is the Manager of Offshore Preparedness at ECRC's Mt. Pearl location in NL. Todd lives in CBS and has been with ECRC since 2007.