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Expert Tactical Response Plan Tips for Oil and Gas Companies

Posted on Thu, Jun 05, 2014

Maintaining accurate and effective response plans requires due diligence. In the oil and gas industry, response planning for a dynamic worst-case scenario with multiple moving parts and various potential trajectories is an ongoing, yet required challenge. However, utilizing web-based, database driven, standardized tactical plan template enables emergency managers to plan for numerous potential impact zones across vastly diverse terrains with multitudes response obstacles. The hazardous nature of the material spilled, the number of responders involved, and the probable impacts requires a pre-planned, coordinated, and swift response effort. A web-based template format allows secured access for various stakeholders, despite their location, maximizing the planning effort for an effective response.  

Tactical response plans contain numerous geographical fixed response actions for the various off-site tracts in the path of an oil spill. These planning tools assist in the implementation of an overall response strategy by minimizing the potential travel distance of a spill.  The tactical planning process identifies the “how” a downstream response will be implemented at a specific location. When spills migrate off site, it is essential to have plans in place that have been developed in cooperation with those in the potential path of a spill. Communication with downstream counterparts lessens spill response anxieties and promotes company/community partnerships.

Through the planning process, information necessary to achieve a successful response is gathered at each downstream response location. The primary objectives of tactical response plans are to:

  • Allow response personnel to prepare for and safely respond to spill incidents
  • Ensure an effective and efficient response despite geographical challenges
  • Identify potential equipment, manpower, and other resources necessary to implement a spill response
  • Outline response procedures and techniques for combating the spill at a specific location
  • Improve regulatory compliance efforts

Because a single oil spill can have a significant or catastrophic impact on downstream environments, it is imperative for emergency managers to cyclically evaluate response processes and maintain the most up-to-date plan possible. Off-site spill responses and containment efforts present unique challenges compared with those within the confines of a specific facility or secondary containment. Downstream spills require a higher level of coordination and communication in effort to minimize impending impacts. Those challenges include, but are not limited to:

  • Response time must be minimal due to spill flow rate and travel distances
  • Potential substantial equipment deployment
  • Waterway access points
  • Coordination and cooperation efforts with private landowners
  • Consequential costs associated with long-term cleanup activities
  • Extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, fishing, and/or tourism industries
  • Potential lawsuits

In the event of an emergency, updated paper plans are typically not available from all downstream locations. Web-based planning system software increases accessibility options while improving efficiency, functionality, and effectiveness. A standardized, enterprise-wide, yet customizable tactical plan template provides necessary data for each response site.  The systematic tactical response plan format should consist of customary response policies and procedures, as well as detailed, site-specific data necessary for an effective response.

Web-based tactical plans can provide a responder’s perspective of specific short-term actions and details that communicate best site access, assessment tools, and response measures. Tactical spill plans should include the following:

  • Various photographs of each segment (including ground and aerial views, if possible)
  • Maps
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Land/property owner information
  • Driving directions to the site from main roads
  • Description of potential staging area(s)
  • Specific response tactics for the site location
  • Description of site and applicable waterways
  • Site access specifications
  • Necessary security requirements
  • Waterway flow rates and composition
  • Any critical response information that may be informative to responders
  • Recommended equipment and personnel to implement response strategy
  • Other site specific pertinent issues that may hinder a response


Challenged with managing preparedness amongst your various facilites? Download TRP's best practices guide on response planning for large organizations with multi-facility operations.

Multiple Facility Response Planning Company Preparedness Guide DOWNLOAD

Tags: Emergency Preparedness, Response Plans, Oil Spill, Chemical Industry