Overview of Oil Spills and Oil Spill Governance

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					Overview of Oil Spills and Oil Spill
Governance

I. Oil Spill Governance

Oil Pollution Act of 1990

During the past two decades, while U.S. oil imports and consumption have steadily risen, oil spill
incidents and the volume of oil spilled have not followed a similar course. In general, the annual
number and volume of oil spills have shown declines—in some cases, dramatic declines. The 1989
Exxon Valdez spill in Alaskan waters played a large role in stimulating actions that contributed to this
trend, particularly the decrease in the annual spill volumes. The Exxon Valdez spill highlighted the need
for stronger legislation, inflamed public sentiment, and spurred Congress to enact comprehensive oil
spill legislation, resulting in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA).1

The OPA strengthened and clarified the federal government’s role in oil spill response and cleanup.
OPA Section 4201 amended Section 311(c) of the CWA to provide the President (delegated to the
USCG or EPA) with three options: perform cleanup immediately (“federalize” the spill), monitor the
response efforts of the spiller, or direct the spiller’s cleanup activities. The federal government
determines the level of cleanup required. Although the federal government must consult with designated
trustees of natural resources and the governor of the state affected by the spill, the decision that cleanup
is completed and can be ended rests with the federal government. States may require further work, but
without the support of federal funding.2

The OPA also amended the CWA to require that U.S. tank vessels, offshore facilities, and certain
onshore facilities prepare and submit oil spill response plans to the relevant federal agency. In general,
vessels and facilities are prohibited from handling, storing, or transporting oil if they do not have an
approved plan. The plans are required to identify how the owner or operator of a vessel or facility
would respond to a worst-case scenario spill. Congress did not intend for every vessel to have onboard
all the personnel and equipment needed to respond to a worst-case spill, but vessels must have a plan
and procedures to call upon—typically through a contractual relationship with an organization such as
the Marine Spill Response Corporation or Clean Gulf Associates—the necessary equipment and
personnel for responding to a worst-case spill.3



1
  This paragraph is an excerpt from the Congressional Research Services report “Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters:
Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress” – Jonathan L. Ramseur, Congressional Research Service. Oil Spills in
U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress (August 27, 2009).
2
  Id.
3
  Jonathan L. Ramseur, Congressional Research Service. Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and
Issues for Congress (August 27, 2009).

                                                                                                         Page 1 of 11
On the technological side, the OPA required new vessels carrying oil and operating in U.S. waters to
have double hulls. However, OPA provided certain exceptions, depending on the size of the vessel (e.g.,
less than 5,000 gross tons) and its particular use (e.g., lightering). For older vessels, OPA established a
staggered retrofitting schedule, based on vessel age and size. Many of the age-based deadlines have
already passed. By 2015 at the latest, the law requires that all oil-carrying vessels operating in U.S.
waters have double hulls.4

Federal Agency Implementation

The federal government has jurisdiction over oil spills and oil spill response in both federal and state
navigable waters. Oil spill response authority is determined by the location of the spill: the United
States Coast Guard (USCG) has response authority in coastal waters, and the EPA covers inland oil
spills. Federal law requires any discharge of oil that creates a film or sheen5 on the surface of the water
to be reported to the National Response Center, who then disseminates this information to the USCG as
the federal onshore coordinator. As the primary response authority in coastal waters, the USCG has the
ultimate authority to ensure that an oil spill is effectively removed and actions are taken to prevent
further discharge from the source. 6 During response operations, the USCG coordinates the efforts of
federal, state, and private parties. Coast Guard response efforts are supported by NOAA’s Office of
Response and Restoration. NOAA provides scientific analysis and consultation during oil spill response
activities. Assistance can include oil spill tracking, cleanup alternatives, and knowledge of at-risk
natural resources. Moreover, NOAA experts begin to collect data to assess natural resource damages
during response operations.7

Regarding oil spill prevention and preparedness duties, jurisdiction is determined by the potential
sources (e.g., vessels, facilities, pipelines) of oil spills. A series of executive orders (EOs), coupled with
memoranda of understanding (MOU), have established the various agency responsibilities. Table 1
below identifies the agencies responsible for implementing prevention and preparedness regulations for
the potential sources of oil spills.8

                    Table 1. Federal Agency Jurisdiction for Oil Spill Prevention
                                and Preparedness Duties, by Source
               ________________________________________________________________
                     Potential Source of Oil Spill                      Responsible Agency
               __________________________________________________________
                    Vessels                                              USCG

                    Onshore, non-transportation facilities               EPA

                    Onshore, transportation facilities                   USCG and Department of Transportation (DOT)



4
  Jonathan L. Ramseur, Congressional Research Service. Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and
Issues for Congress (August 27, 2009).
5
  Three gallons of crude oil can create a sheen of an acre (43,560 square feet) or more in size on the ocean surface.
6
 Jonathan L. Ramseur, Congressional Research Service. Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard (2009).
7
  Jonathan L. Ramseur, Congressional Research Service. Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and
Issues for Congress (August 27, 2009).
8
  Id.

                                                                                                         Page 2 of 11
                    Deepwater ports                                              USCG and DOT

                    Offshore facilities (oil/gas extraction)                     Minerals Management Service (MMS) within the
                                                                                 Department of Interior

                    Offshore pipelines directly associated with oil              MMS
                    extraction activities (i.e., “production lines”).

                   Offshore pipelines not directly associated                    Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) within the DOT
                   with oil extraction activities (i.e., “transmission lines”)

                    Inland pipelines                                             OPS

                 ___________________________________________
Prevention responsibilities include, among other things, assessing whether facilities or vessels have the
necessary equipment in place. As discussed above, vessels may be required to have double hulls;
facilities may need secondary containment. Preparedness duties involve oversight tasks, such as
evaluating facility and vessel response plans. Preparedness responsibilities also include developing and
maintaining contingency plans at various levels: area, regional, and national. Personnel training is a vital
component of sustaining readiness. NOAA oil spill experts help train responders in government service
and private business. In addition, OPA requires agencies to conduct internal examinations to test
preparedness. As part of this requirement, the USCG conducts Spills of National Significance (SONS)
exercises to analyze the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to a major oil spill.9

II. Oil Spills

Federal OCS Oil Spills: 1971 to 2007

According to the 2002 NRC report, “Oil in the Sea,” 95.28 percent of oil seepage in North America
was not related to the petroleum industry (drilling, producing, transportation, processing, etc.).10
MMS has comprehensive spill data for petroleum spills of one barrel or greater for the last 37 years. All
of the statistics below are specific to petroleum spills of one barrel (42 U.S. gallons) or greater of crude
oil, condensate, or refined petroleum product such as diesel, lube oil, mineral oil, etc. OCS oil
production refers to both crude oil and condensate (a liquid light oil product from natural gas
production). Oil spill losses during the current decade continue to show a decline from previous decades.
Technological advances are a major factor in this continued improvement.

General Observations:11

       Between 1971 and 2007, OCS operators have produced almost 15 billion barrels of oil. During
        this period, there were 2,645 spills which totaled to approximately 164,100 barrels spilled (equal
        to 0.001% of barrels produced) or about 1 barrel spilled for every 91,400 barrels produced.

9
  This paragraph is an excerpt from the Congressional Research Services report “Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters:
Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress” – Jonathan L. Ramseur, Congressional Research Service. Oil Spills in
U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress (August 27, 2009).
10
   National Research Council, Oil in the sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects (2002).
11
   Minerals Management Service, Federal OCS Oil Spills: 1971 to 2007, (July 18, 2008). (all of the following data and
statistics were reported by MMS in the documented cited.)

                                                                                                                   Page 3 of 11
          This record has improved over time. Between1993 and 2007, the most recent 15-year period,
           almost 7.5 billion barrels of oil were produced. During this period there were 651 spills totaling
           approximately 47,800 barrels spilled (equal to 0.0006% of barrels produced) or approximately 1
           barrel spilled for every 156,900 barrels produced.
          MMS uses the U.S. Coast Guard’s offshore spill size classifications: MINOR, less than 10,000
           gallons (238 barrels); MEDIUM, 10,000 to 99,999 gallons (238 to 2,380 barrels), and MAJOR,
           100,000 gallons (2,381 barrels and greater). These size categories are for coastal and offshore
           waters and are based solely on spill volume. Of the 2,645 petroleum spills between 1971 and
           2007, 2,583 (97.7%) were MINOR in size. These MINOR spills were responsible for 25,477
           (15.5%) of the barrels spilled.12
          There were 49 MEDIUM spills (1.8% of the spills) which were responsible for 33,698 (20.6%)
           of the barrels spilled. Only 13 (0.5% of the spills) were MAJOR in size, but they were
           responsible for 104,881 (63.9%) of the barrels spilled. The last MAJOR spill was 3,200 barrels
           from a pipeline in 1999. Approximately 146,100 barrels, 89.1 percent of the 164,100 barrels
           spilled between 1971 and 2007, were crude oil or condensate (i.e. unrefined product). Almost
           18,000 barrels (10.9% of the oil spilled) were refined products of which over 16,000 barrels were
           diesel.
          Almost 15 billion barrels of OCS oil were produced between 1971 and 2007. Approximately13.8
           billion barrels (92%) were produced in the Gulf of Mexico Region, almost 1.2 billion barrels
           (8%) were produced in the Pacific Region, and about 2.5 million barrels (0.02%) was the Federal
           share from the Northstar State/Federal platform in the Alaska Region which started producing in
           2001.
          Between 1971 and 2007, only 71 of the spills totaling approximately 639 barrels occurred in the
           Pacific Region. The largest spills in the Pacific during this period were: 150 barrels (1996), 100
           barrels (1990), and two 50 barrel spills (1991 and 1994).
          Between 1971 and 2007, 2,567 of the spills totaling approximately 163,350 barrels, occurred in
           the Gulf of Mexico Region. Hurricanes were responsible for 240 of these spills totaling about
           36,750 barrels.
          According to the 2002 NRC report, natural seepage was the largest single source of petroleum in
           the worldwide marine environment, contributing over 4 million barrels per year, 47-percent of
           total inputs (See Table 2 below). In North America, natural seepage is the largest input,
           contributing 63 percent of total oil to the marine environment. This amounts to 1,700 barrels
           from natural seeps entering North American waters every day, more than 150 times the amount
           from OCS production and transportation.

                          Table 2. Average Annual Petroleum Input in North America13

                              Natural Seeps                                1,120,000 barrels
                              Transportation                                  63,700 barrels
                                     Pipelines                                    21%
                                     Tank Vessels                                 28%
                                     Coastal Facilities                           21%
                                     Atmospheric Depositions                      less than .01%
12
     See Table 1 in Appendix A
13
     National Research Council, Oil in the sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects (2002).


                                                                                                   Page 4 of 11
                          Extraction                                      21,000 barrels
                                 Platforms                                    5.3%
                                 Atmospheric Deposition                       4.0%
                                 Produced Waters                              90%
                          Consumption                                    588,000 barrels
                                 Land-based (river/runoff)                    64%
                                 Recreational vessels                         6.5%
                                 Non-tank vessels                             1.4%
                                 Vessel operational discharges                2.5%
                                 Atmospheric deposition                       25%
                                 Jettisoned aircraft fuel                     1.6%

                          North American Petroleum Input Source Percentages

                                   2%       Offshore oil and gas (including pipelines)
                                   2%       Recreational marine vessels
                                   8%       Municipal/industrial waste water and runoff
                                   3%       Marine transportation
                                   22%      Atmospheric fallout from consumption
                                   63%      Natural seeps

Between 1971 and 2000, tankers and barges were responsible for 45 percent of the volume of oil spilled
in U.S. waters. However, spillage from tankers and barges in U.S. waters has declined dramatically over
the three decades, with their spillage during 1991-2000 having declined to one-tenth of the spillage
during 1971-1980.1415

Between 1971 and 2000, pipelines were responsible for 16 percent of the volume of oil spilled in U.S.
waters. This includes both onshore and offshore pipelines. Onshore, not offshore, spills are the source of
most of the pipeline spillage into U.S. waters—92 percent or more in each decade.16

Between 1971 and 2000, U.S. OCS offshore facilities and connected pipelines accounted for only 2
percent of the volume of oil spilled in U.S. waters.17




14
   See Table 2 in Appendix A
15
   Minerals Management Service, OCS Oil Spill Facts (September 2002). This report reflects the latest data available. An
update of this report has not yet been completed.
16
   Id.
17
   Id.

                                                                                                            Page 5 of 11
Hurricane related Oil Spill Data

         Offshore Facilities (Platforms and Pipelines)

In spite of the widespread impact in 2005 on the Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) during
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the loss of hydrocarbons from wells was minimized by the successful
operation of the safety valves that are required to be installed at least 100 feet below the mudline in each
wellbore. The check valves on pipeline safety joints automatically activated when pipelines were
breached which limited the potential losses to the volumes within the damaged sections. All OCS
facilities in areas threatened by the storms’ approach were shut in prior to the hurricanes so that oil
losses were mostly limited to the oil stored on the damaged platforms and rigs or contained in damaged
pipeline sections between the check valves. The hydrocarbons lost during the hurricanes were
thoroughly dispersed offshore by the hostile sea conditions which eliminated the potential for oiling the
shores. There were no accounts of environmental consequences resulting from spills from OCS
facilities18:

        No spill contacts to the shoreline.
        No oiling of marine mammals, birds, or other wildlife.
        No large volumes of oil on the ocean surface to be collected or cleaned up.

18
  Minerals Management Service, Petroleum Spills of One Barrel or Greater from Federal Outer Continental Shelf Facilities
Resulting from Damages Caused by 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Including Post-Hurricane Seepage Through June
2007 (June 23, 2008).

                                                                                                          Page 6 of 11
        No identified environmental impacts from any OCS spills from Hurricanes Katrina or Rita.

MMS has identified 165 spills of petroleum products of one barrel or greater totaling 14,676 barrels that
were lost from platforms, rigs, and pipelines on the Federal OCS. Approximately 90.0% of the spillage,
13,214 barrels, was released during the hurricanes. An estimated 4,707 barrels were lost during Katrina,
and 8,507 barrels were lost during Rita from damaged, destroyed, and lost OCS facilities. The intensity
of the hurricanes instantaneously forced the dispersion and dilution of the released petroleum into the
open ocean which precluded the formation of voluminous slicks. Approximately 10.0% of the spillage is
1,462 barrels in small leaks and chronic seepage from damaged structures between October 2005 and
December 2007, 163 barrels from Katrina and 1,299 barrels from Rita.19

The 165 spills from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (including seepage through December 2007) were
comprised of:

        153 MINOR spills totaling 4,732 barrels,
        12 MEDIUM spills totaling 9,944 barrels, and
        No MAJOR spills.20

The 153 MINOR spills include 76 spills less than 10 barrels and another 42 spills between 10 and 49
barrels. All but one of the MEDIUM spills occurred during the hurricanes and so most of this spillage
was completely dispersed during the storms. Only three MEDIUM spills were 1,000 barrels or greater,
all three of which occurred during Hurricane Rita.

Damaged and destroyed platforms, rigs, and pipelines were the source of the 14,676 barrels of petroleum
lost in 165 spills observed through December 2007. Platforms and rigs account for 92 of the spills and
11,690 barrels (79.7%) of the spillage. These losses include refined petroleum products such as diesel
and lube oil stored on the platforms and rigs at the time of the hurricanes. Pipeline losses account for 73
of the spills totaling 2,986 barrels (20.3%).21

         Onshore Facilities

According to MMS, over 250,000 bbl of oil spilled onshore during Hurricane Katrina. This included the
following crude oil spills of 1,000 bbl or greater:2223

     1. 90,000 bbl- Bass Enterprises, Cox Bay
     2. 33,900 bbl- Chevron, Empire Terminal

19
   This paragraph is an excerpt from the MMS report Petroleum Spills of One Barrel or Greater from Federal Outer
Continental Shelf Facilities Resulting from Damages Caused by 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Including Post-Hurricane
Seepage Through June 2007 – full citation, Minerals Management Service, Petroleum Spills of One Barrel or Greater from
Federal Outer Continental Shelf Facilities Resulting from Damages Caused by 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Including
Post-Hurricane Seepage Through June 2007 (June 23, 2008).
20
   See Table 3 in Appendix A
21
   See Table 4 in Appendix A
22
   Minerals Management Service, Petroleum Spills from Federal Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Facilities Caused by
Major Hurricanes, 2002 to 2008 Lili (2002), Ivan (2004), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Gustav (2008) and Ike (2008)
(published 9/24/2009).
23
   See Table 5 in Appendix A

                                                                                                        Page 7 of 11
     3. 25,435 bbl- Shell Pipeline, Pilot Town Terminal
     4. 25,110 bbl- Murphy Oil Refinery
     5. 10,989 bbl- Bass Enterprises, North
     6. 3,315 bbl- Shell Pipeline
     7. 1,845 bbl- Sundown Energy, East
     8. 1,276 bbl- Chevron, Fourchon Terminal
     9. 1,150 bbl- ConocoPhillips, Alliance Refinery
These nine spills totaled 193,020 bbl of which 97,000 bbl were reported to have been recovered. Most
of the remaining spillage was reported as dispersed during Hurricane Katrina.

Over 22,000bbl of oil spilled onshore during Hurricane Rita. This included the following crude oil spills
of 1,000 bbl and greater:24

    1. 6,000 bbl- ConocoPhillips, Refinery Tank #84
    2. 2,498 bbl- BP America, Grand Cheniere
    3. 2,285 bbl- Williams Field Services
These three spills totaled 10,783 bbl of which approximately 7,500 bbl were reported to have been
recovered. Most of the remaining spillage was reported as dispersed during Hurricane Rita.




24
     Id.

                                                                                            Page 8 of 11
                                        Appendix A

Table 1.


Size of All 2,645 Oil Spills that Occurred in U.S. Waters
                      from 1971-2000

Minor (less than 238 barrels)                 2,583
                                        (97.7% of the spills)


Medium (238 to 2,380 barrels)                    49
                                         (1.8% of the spills)


Large (2,381 barrels and greater)                13
                                         (0.5% of the spills)




Table 2.



    Source of Spills in All U.S. Waters that Occurred
                Between 1971 and 2000
                      (by percentage)


Tankers and barges                              45%


Pipelines                                      16%
                                    (92% from onshore pipelines)


Offshore facilities and connected                2%
pipelines




                                                                   Page 9 of 11
Table 3.


Offshore Spills Resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and
             Rita Between 2005 and 2007


Total number of Spills (1 barrel              165
or greater)


     Minor Spills                             153
                                   (76 less than 10 barrels)


                                               12
     Medium Spills                 (only 3 greater than 1,000
                                            barrels)


     Major Spills                              0




Table 4.

  Source of Offshore Spills Resulting from Hurricanes
                   Katrina and Rita
                Between 2005 and 2007


Platforms and Rigs                 92 out of 165 total spills
                                     (79.7% of spillage)


Pipelines                          73 out of 165 total spills
                                     (20.3% of spillage).




                                                                Page 10 of 11
Table 5.

Total Amount of Oil spilled from Onshore and Offshore
 Facilities as a Result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
                 between 2005 and 2007



Offshore facilities (rigs,          14,676 barrels
platforms, pipelines, vessels)


Onshore Facilities (pipelines,     272,000 barrels
refineries, terminals, storage
tanks)




                                                         Page 11 of 11

				
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