The ability to respond effectively and efficiently to an oil spill depends on good planning and preparedness. A number of guidelines and recommendations have been developed to assist with plan and strategy development, equipment suitability, and training procedures but there are no internationally recognized standards against which readiness can be evaluated. Such standards and the procedures by which competency are evaluated generally exist in countries with a well developed regulatory environment. For many projects the instigation and maintenance of an appropriate level of oil spill response (OSR) readiness in line with best international practice is the responsibility of the operator or owner of the project. Guidelines are presented to evaluate competency and effectiveness in: (1) the Planning Phase, during which objectives and strategies are developed and response resources are identified; (2) the Implementation Phase, in which the various different management and operational components are acquired, assembled, and trained; and (3) the Sustained Readiness Phase, that continues through the life of the project as standards are maintained, monitored, and improvements are introduced. Three response readiness elements common to the three project phases are (i) management, (ii) operation, and (iii) evaluation. Each of these elements is as important as the others and a deficiency in one affects the overall adequacy of the response system as a whole. The evaluation tools used in each phase include matrices and checklists for oil spill response plans (OSRPs) and related documents, performance assessment of drills and exercises to test the implementation of the plans and proposed strategies, and monitoring for sustained management and operational readiness.

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