Safaniyah Major Oil Spill Drill
The drill demonstrated the company’s proven leadership in oil spill response readiness, with use of the latest technology resources and capabilities.
In line with Aramco’s efforts to enhance the safety and protection of the environment of the Arabian Gulf, and to ensure the company’s preparedness response level is vigorously maintained for any incident, the Marine Department recently carried out a major oil spill drill at the Safaniyah Offshore Field in the northern part of the Arabian Gulf.
The two-day drill’s objectives included the collaboration with government authorities, demonstrating Aramco’s capabilities while acquiring international cooperative support and assessment of the event.
The drill simulated a response to large oil slicks crossing Saudi Arabia’s sea borders and moving toward Aramco facilities, and involved the active participation of 14 company organizations.
Joint Response Team
Upon initial notification of the incident, the Joint Response Team assembled, using the Marine Tanajib emergency control center (ECC) as a unified command center with live streaming of field activities going to the ECC through IT advanced systems.
The response team was divided into working groups to effectively handle the various aspects of the incident, including command, planning, operations, logistics, waste management, and other support. The structure was in accordance with the internationally adopted Incident Command System.
Drill activities simulated response operations to very large oil slicks extending into Aramco offshore oil fields and drifting toward the Safaniyah pier and water intakes, endangering environmental and industrial sensitive areas. The response team was challenged with combatting a major crude oil spill of 37,000 barrels.
The oil spill response operations included offshore containment and recovery by a total of nine Marine vessels, shoreline cleanup by the Marine Pollution Control Unit, and aerial support by Aramco’s Aviation helicopter and dispersant spray sorties by air tractor. The drill was led by the Marine Department, and attended by representatives from several departments, namely Government Affairs, Safaniyah Producing (onshore/offshore), Loss Prevention, Industrial Security, Risk Management, Law, Aviation, Transportation & Equipment Services, Northern Area Community Services, Area Information Technology, Environmental Protection, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, and Corporate Communication.
Aramco’s Oil Spill Committee chairman and executive director of Industrial Services, Fahad M. Al-Abdul Kareem, commented on the drill, saying, “Aramco has, once more, demonstrated its ability to initiate a major oil spill response effort, in collaboration with government authorities and international responders, to protect Aramco and KSA interests and the natural sea environment.”
The drill represented a real test of the company’s capabilities, as well as cooperation and coordination with major stakeholders in emergency and oil spill response — both in-Kingdom and globally. Al-Abdul Kareem added that the committee charter includes ensuring that Aramco is ready to respond to potential oil spill incidents anytime and anywhere across its operating areas.
Abdullah O. Al-Tewairqi, Marine Department manager, emphasized that the drill is an integral part of Aramco’s emergency preparedness activities, noting that the drill demonstrated the company’s proven leadership in oil spill response readiness and response, with use of the latest technology resources and capabilities.