From the first weeks following the onset of the spill, BP, via OSR, sought to inventory the expertise and response means available on an international level.
Many countries were quick to offer their assistance and means on a voluntary basis.
After initially declining offers of assistance, the US authorities sought, diplomatically via the IMO and the European Commission’s Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), to mobilise:
- dispersants and booms, in early May 2010
- fire booms and medium-sized booms, in early June
- high capacity skimmers, mid-June.
In Europe, EMSA, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, France, Portugal, the UK, Romania, Belgium, Greece and Croatia offered a vast array of products and equipment, some of which were accepted to add to the impressive arsenal deployed by the US authorities.
On 13 October, the European Commissioner for Energy presented a legislative proposal on oil rigs, which would impose the strictest safety standards in the world. This proposal takes the best practices existing in Europe and enforces them as standard throughout the European Union. It aims to tighten criteria to obtain a drilling permit (in particular, companies must prove they have sufficient funds to cover environmental damage in the event of a spill), reinforce rig controls and harmonise safety control mechanisms. This proposal will be presented in early 2011 to the European Parliament and Council.
Several French service providers and response equipment manufacturers became involved in this response. In June, the sale of several Cataglop recovery barges and the lease of the recovery vessel Catamar to the Florida-based company AshBritt by the Breton company Ecocéane were splashed across the press.
The efficiency of a recovery net named the Nymphea Oil Trawler Instant Launch, or NOTIL, proposed by the company Nymphea environnement, affiliate of the Vinci group (Bouches du Rhône) was under assessment in late July.
Upon the request of the Government of the Bahamas, the IMO sent two experts to Nassau, in early June, to assess the risks generated by the pollution if the slicks were to be pushed out of the Gulf of Mexico by the current.
Cedre’s Caribbean delegate and an expert from the regional RAC/REMPEITC centre in Curaçao were sent on site to assess the Government’s level of preparedness to respond to potential pollution, focusing on its national spill contingency plan and the Government and oil industry means available in the Bahamas. Recommendations were made in terms of the surveillance and protection of the islands located west of the Bahamas, most likely to be affected.
In mid-July, an expert from Cedre took part in an international mission involving around fifteen agents from international organisations (IMO, EMSA, IOPC Funds…) and representatives of various States (Korea, New Zealand…).
Meanwhile, the Director of Cedre, upon invitation by BP, visited the spill area to assess the situation. During this mission, he was able to visit the Houma Command Centre set up on the premises of a training centre belonging to BP and to take part in a SCAT survey. A meeting with the Consulate General of France in New Orleans was also organised.