This paper presents a proposed Oil Spill Response (OSR) Readiness assessment tool for international application that is designed to support spill response planning and readiness assessments by industry and government. This paper summarizes the content of a larger report developed by an IOSC Workshop Subcommittee and refined during an IOSC Special Workshop: Assessment of Oil Spill Response Capabilities held on 3 December 2007 in Gamboa, Panama.

Each nation and industry sector has different interests and areas of knowledge with respect to spill response priorities and capabilities. As personnel change jobs, their knowledge departs with them. Consequently, expectations for response capability and the manner by which it should be attained can vary. Requirements for levels of response competency may change over time, may not be balanced by the risk of spills, and may not support long-term readiness to meet actual spill risks.

There have been few attempts in the spill response community to prepare generic checklists or comprehensive guides for the assessment of response capability. Most guidance is focused on the content of OSR contingency plans. The current IOSC effort aims to be as comprehensive and as detailed as possible encompassing an entire OSR system or program. The IOSC Workshop Subcommittee prepared a broad suite of planning and readiness assessment elements to encourage improved response capacity by aiding development and maintenance of response management systems from a site level to a multi-national level and to reach beyond OSR contingency planning. This approach turns the document into a powerful management tool for evaluating oil spill response capacity at different planning levels, from local, to regional, national and multi-national.

Government and industry representatives from Latin America and the Wider Caribbean Region met in Panama on 3 December 2007 to review and discuss the preliminary IOSC Guidelines. This paper and its companion report are intended to advance best international practice for OSR planning and readiness assessment. It is hoped that this IOSC Guide can be maintained as an evergreen tool by consistent use and feedback from within the spill response community.

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Author notes

1 Regional Activity Center - Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, Information and Training Centre - Caribe (RAC/REMPEITC Caribe).

2 Regional Association of Oil and Natural Gas Companies in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARPEL).