Up to a few years ago, contingency planning in the Colombian oil industry treated contingency plans for oil spills, fires and explosions as independent contingency plans. Strategies, operational procedures and equipment were selected for each type of emergency response. This condition reduced overall performance for different types of emergencies and restricted an emergency brigade's responsibility and commitment when facing an emergency. The members of a fire brigade, for example, did not have enough experience to control an oil spill and simply felt that they were not responsible for such work. In 1989, new legislation in Colombia established an approach for emergency response in which local, regional and national committees were created at municipal, departmental and national levels. These committees were responsible for emergency response coordination that depended on the emergency type and size, and on the resources involved. It soon became evident that individual contingency plans should be incorporated into a single comprehensive document. However, there were no guidelines available to provide contingency planners with the tools necessary to develop such integrated plans. The Colombian Petroleum Institute's new approach for designing and structuring Contingency Plans for the Colombian oil industry is presented in this document. New schemes for comprehensive emergency response are discussed, considering strategic, operational and data processing issues. Master Contingency Plans provide Local Contingency Plan developers with suitable tools that will enable them to develop their own plans in a comprehensive way, while coordinating the plans with the Colombian National System for Disaster Prevention and Response considered in Colombian law.

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Author notes

i DISCLAIMER: This paper is designed to provide general information in regard to the subject matter covered. The views and opinions are those of the authors solely and do not represent the views opinions and policies of the Colombian government. The guidelines given by means of this paper are not intended to solve any particular situation nor individual conditions. If advice or assistance is needed a professional should be sought and a comprehensive study on the specific situation should be conducted before making any decision. Any mention of commercial products is for information only; it does not imply recommendation or endorsement by ECOPETROL nor ICP nor does it imply that products mentioned are necessarily the best available in the market for that purpose.