Major Oil Spill Response Coordination in the Combat of Spills in Bahrain Waters
- D.J.S. Brown (Bahrain Petroleum Co.) | J.D. James (Bahrain Petroleum Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1985
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 131 - 136
- 1985. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers
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On Aug. 25, 1980, without warning, a large oil slick in vaded the north and west coasts of Bahrain (Fig. 1). This serious incident was designated a national emergency, and a special high-level government committee was established immediately to handle the response procedure.
This paper describes how the committee functioned with the private sector and the problems encountered and overcome. The lessons learned have stimulated interest in our proposed use of computers to aid combat operations as proposed use of computers to aid combat operations as both a technical tool and an information service. In addition, this experience can guide those responsible for controlling response operations for future major oil spills in coastal areas.
With proper planning, a highly satisfactory cooperative organization can be established between government and the private sector to respond effectively, economically, and with minimum environmental damage to a major oil spill affecting coastal waters and shorelines. Part of this planning is to collate and record the major available planning is to collate and record the major available response equipment and material packages, thereby increasing the necessary state of readiness.
The threat of a major oil spill in the Arabian Gulf area has been recognized by industry and governments of the region since the early 1970's, when the Torrey Canyon catastrophe first focused international attention on the scope of response required.
The first industrial initiative came in 1971 from Bahrain Petroleum Co. (Bapco) and Aramco, who invited Petroleum Co. (Bapco) and Aramco, who invited operating oil companies in the gulf to participate in discussions that led in the following year to the establishment of the Gulf Area Oil Companies Mutual Aid Organization (GAOCMAO) as a regional oil spill cleanup cooperative venture. This organization has 20 member companies and played a significant part in the response to the second of the two spills, which threatened Bahrain in 1980 (the Hasbah No. 6 blowout).
The regional governments, although initially content to allow the oil industry to set up a suitable regional response, became more actively involved during the promulgation and ratification of the Kuwait Convention for promulgation and ratification of the Kuwait Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment in 1979. The formal establishment in 1982 of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) for the Bahrain region also will provide coordination and control aid for oil spill response by the governments of the Gulf area in the event of a future major incident. The industry, through GAOCMAO, now looks forward to the closest cooperation with MEMAC on all aspects of oil spill response contingency planning, training programs, oil spills reporting, validation, etc. to benefit the marine environment of the region. It was partially with this consideration in mind that the executive secretariat of GAOCMAO also was set up in Bahrain.
The Aug. 1980 Oil Spill
On Aug. 25, 1980, large quantities of crude oil from an unidentified source began invading the north and west coasts of Bahrain. Reports from fishermen and coastal zone residents alerted the authorities. All oil-carrying pipelines and vessels in Bahrain's territorial waters were pipelines and vessels in Bahrain's territorial waters were checked immediately for the spill source, with no results. However, it was ascertained that the oil had come from a northwesterly direction outside Bahrain waters. Samples taken from the spill showed that its characteristics were similar to that of Arabian light crude.
On the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 26, Bapco representatives met with government officials to discuss what action should be taken. However, as the magnitude of the spill became apparent (subsequently estimated at approximately 20,000 bbl [3180 m3]), the Prime Minister requested the establishment of a ministerial subcommittee to handle the cleanup operations under the chairmanship of the Minister of Health. The minister requested Bapco to undertake coordination of oil spill cleanup activities on behalf of the government, to finance all expenditures involved in the cleanup operation as necessary, and to maintain a record of the total cost of the cleanup operation including all expenses incurred by government agencies. Bapco immediately agreed to this request and an organization was established under the chairmanship of Bapco's environmental engineer, who in turn reported to Bapco's general manager.
The organization established daily liaison/briefing meetings with all government agencies involved in cleanup operations (i.e., ministries of Health, Commerce and Agriculture, Defense, Interior, Development and Industry, Information, Works Power and Water, and the Central Municipalities Council).
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