Oil Spill Prevention and Response
Each day, America’s oil and natural gas companies safely supply much of the energy that heats and cools Americans’ homes, and fuels our transportation needs. The industry has a long history of leadership, a strong commitment to safety and demonstrated performance.
Under federal law, all companies with offshore facilities must file oil spill contingency plans with The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and emergency response plans with the U.S. Coast Guard. Companies must ensure that spill response equipment is available and properly maintained, and that employees are adequately trained. Federal and state agencies regularly conduct drills and inspections to ensure response capabilities are maintained at a high level.
Following the Gulf oil spill, the industry has taken several steps to improve our safety mechanisms, including joining forces to build and deploy a rapid-response containment system. This system is pre-engineered, constructed, tested and ready for rapid deployment in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Its primary objective is to contain spilled oil with no flow to the sea.
The industry has also created the Center for Offshore Safety, which draws on lessons learned from successful and existing safety programs, applying the best elements of these programs to accommodate the unique challenges of offshore oil and natural gas operations.
New technologies and better training position our industry as a global leader as we continue to yield improvements when it comes to protecting our nation's health and environment through spill prevention. Spills are rare, but when they do happen, the oil and natural gas industry and the U.S. government work together to employ the world’s leading response capabilities and minimize environmental harm.
The industry’s primary spill response objectives are to:
- Prevent the spill from moving onshore
- Reduce the impact on marine life
- Speed the degradation of any unrecovered oil
The industry spends millions of dollars annually to fund the entities that rapidly deploy spill response vessels, skimmers, booms and dispersants should a spill occur. The industry is committed to a goal of zero injuries and zero incidents. Every incident or release is incentive to improve technology, training, operations procedures, and industry standards and best practices.
Onshore, the industry has a number of programs intended to enhance worker safety and spill prevention. For example, the E&P Onshore Operations Program provides training on critical safety issues found at onshore sites. For more information about industry programs, view this fact sheet.