In the wake of the Macondo oil spill which affected the Oil and Gas upstream industry, TOTAL, the Company, participated in a worldwide Oil & Gas Industry effort to improve its response capability to a blow-out situation. Three Task forces were created in the Company, one of them dedicated to the improvement of oil spill preparedness.

In the framework of the action plan developed by this Task Force, TOTAL Group chose its Angolan affiliate TOTAL E&P ANGOLA, referred to as the Affiliate in this article, to organize and run a full scale exercise, code-named “LULA”, with the objective of testing the ability to respond to a major oil spill resulting from a deep sea blow-out. It included the actual mobilization of a newly developed Subsea Dispersant Injection (SSDI) system from Norway and its deployment in the Angolan deep offshore.

Following a year and a half of preparation, liaising with the Angolan National authorities and oil industry partners, the LULA exercise took place from November 13th to 15th, 2013, putting the affiliate oil spill response strategy to test against a 50 000 bopd blow-out scenario in the Angolan deep offshore (water depth 1000m). The exercise was performed on the Block 17 operated by the Affiliate, on an abandoned well ACACIA 4.

LULA was the opportunity to try and check various aspects of a major oil spill response, including:

  • The management of a major emergency, through the mobilization of the entire Emergency Response Organization of TOTAL, in liaison with the Angolan National Incident Command Center;

  • Subsea response involving a Subsea Dispersant Injection kit, SSDI, (developed under a joint industry project SWRP, and managed by Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL)), deployed using a a newly-designed and built Light Well Intervention Vessel;

  • The monitoring and modeling of an oil slick after the authorized release of 5 m3 of crude oil, using a combination of technologies (aerial surveillance, air quality monitoring, drifting buoys, oil spill fate and behavior modeling, satellite imagery, balloon equipped with IR & visible camera, etc.);

  • Surface response offshore with dispersant spraying operations, containment, recovery and storage of the recovered oil;

  • The onshore response, through the simulated implementation of an onshore response plan, encompassing shoreline protection and clean-up, waste management and oiled wildlife response.

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