During the 1990s, the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and Central Eurasia region emerged as one of the most important new sources of world oil supply, attracting development and providing vital new export revenue. With more growth and investment certain, the countries of the region are able to rely increasingly on the benefits arising from uninterrupted exports. As more oil is handled in the region, the shared desire is to eliminate any spills from these operations. Further to a strong commitment to apply preventive measures, a group of energy companies—working in cooperation with governments—also believe it is prudent to undertake actions that can significantly reduce the consequence of any such incidents. In 2002–03 these companies undertook a comprehensive study and detailed analyses of the state of oil spill preparedness in region.
The study found that governments, companies, institutions and stakeholder groups widely agreed on the need for improved response capability. Beyond the significant economic and business risks posed by spills, there is universal concern to better protect the environment and the public. A poor spill response could harm the regions ecology, affect local business and the industry's reputation, with serious repercussions.
In line with recommendations from the study, the oil industry launched an initiative to support the efforts of governments and promote regional response capability in mid 2003—the Oil Spill Preparedness Regional Initiative (Caspian Sea—Black Sea—Central Eurasia)—known as OSPRI.
OSPRI embraces an overall vision, set out as … Industry and the region's governments work cooperatively to promote proven, credible, integrated, sustainable oil-spill response capability. OSPRI is action-oriented and brings a consistent, aligned approach for industry in its relationship with international and national partners when developing effective preparedness. OSPRI avoids piecemeal approaches and is encouraging planning processes based on clear command and control frameworks, the tiered response philosophy and response policy based on net environmental benefit (IPIECA 2000). This is making a significant contribution towards helping governments and operators achieve best practice in their contingency planning.