The inadequacy of the Swedish national emergency management system has been highlighted during several large-scale national emergencies, including forest fires (Västmanland 2014) and storms (Gudrun 2005, Dagmar 2011, and Ivar 2013). The Swedish oil spill preparedness is part of the national emergency response system and was tested under real conditions during the 2003 Fu Shan Hai and 2011 Golden Trader oil spills. Fu Shan Hai spilled 1,200 tonnes of oil on the shorelines of southern Sweden and Golden Trader spilled 500 tonnes on the island of Tjörn. Lessons learned from these incidents and national exercises highlight problems with understanding and cooperation between the organisations responsible during the emergency phase. Complications in the decision-making process lead to confusing, conflicting, or delayed orders, impeding the effectiveness of the response. These difficulties were evident at local, regional, and national levels during the oil spill response.

The Swedish oil spill preparedness system does not have a hierarchical structure. Network analysis and surveys of all coastal municipalities, County Administrative Boards and interviews with national oil spill experts were used to examine the characteristics of the oil spill network.

This study shows that 80% of the involved organisations have explicit mandates for oil spill preparedness. An established management network exists, covering 83% of the maximum theoretical connections for contingency planning and 88% for response. The Swedish Coast Guard, Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, and Oil Spill Advisory Service are central organisations. The roles of the Swedish Coast Guard are clear to the respondents, but the roles of the Swedish Transport Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, and Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management are less clear. For planning, the municipalities, County Administrative Boards, Swedish Coast Guard, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, and Oil Spill Equipment Depots are considered the most valuable. For response, the municipalities, Swedish Coast Guard, Oil Spill Equipment Depots, County Administrative Boards, Oil Spill Advisory Service, and Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency are considered the most valuable.

The few connections between the counties and sometimes between neighbouring municipalities in the network, suggests a need to establish an Incident Management System for national cross-organisational emergencies, such as large oil spills. Most importantly, more cross-organisational exercises are needed to build capacity and the necessary inter-organisational relationships. The authors recommend the formation of an Incident Management System in Sweden in order to improve the management of large oil spills.

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