South Africa prepares for oil and gas boom with spill management training

A dead fish is pictured after a more than 10,000 ton oil spill occurred when the Hong Kong-registered tanker Hebei Spirit collided with a barge on 7 December 2007 at Shinduri beach in Taean, about 170 km southwest of Seoul. (Photo credit: KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images)

About 50 to 90 public and private sector officials have undergone advanced oil spillage management training in anticipation of the burgeoning oil and gas investment in South Africa and neighbouring maritime nations.

The extensive classroom training at a mock Incident Management and Command Centre focused on the Incident Management Systems (IMS)300 module, which teaches skills in preventing oil spills at sea, as well as advanced techniques in the managing oil spills as and when they occur.

Participants had to design an effective action plan to manage an imaginary major oil spill incident at a location about 78 n miles south of Mossel Bay, off the southern coast of South Africa.

It is South Africa’s third such joint government and oil and gas industry training exercise supported and conducted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) under the auspices of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF) Project. The Department of Transport, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the national Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg), and various other role players were also involved.

The exercise is consistent with South Africa’s new National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, the draft legislation of which is currently before parliament, said Chueu Terrence Mabuela, IMOrg co-chair.

The second part of the training – an actual exercise out at sea, where the participants will implement the skills learned in the oil spills management training using real materials, tools, and equipment – will take place within 24 months.

The oil and gas industry is expected to be the largest contributor to South Africa’s ocean economy in the next five years. Offshore oil gas and liquefied petroleum gas are responsible for the bulk of the ZAR41.1 billion (USD2.8 billion) investment in the sector to date.