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Without international cooperation, individual countries are usually lacking sufficient resources and assets for successfully responding to large-scale oil spill incidents. This end-result might be related to the vast quantities of oil involved in those incidents, or just to the fact that the necessary special equipment for dealing with the tasks at hand is not available/possessed by that one country under the need to respond, although it can be rather easily provided by a neighboring one. For successfully resolving oil spill incidents, close and effective international cooperation (especially between neighboring countries that usually face similar issues and “share the burden” of oil pollution in case the response is unsatisfactory) is obviously a vital necessity.
The contemporary world relies heavily on oil to cover its energy needs. Unfortunately, oil spills at the locations of production, or during the associated transport endeavors continue to be one of the major threats to both society and the environment at the global level. Oil spills actually pose a greater threat in areas associated with major shipping routes, areas around pipelines and onshore/offshore rigs, as well as in the vicinity of oil and gas processing infrastructures. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14, requires protection of our ocean, marine life and resources; therefore, minimizing possible oil spill incidents and their adverse impacts should be deemed as a very high priority.
The project “South Baltic Oil spill response” (SBOIL) was co-funded by the European Union’s (EU) South Baltic Program, covering the period from summer of 2016 to the end of 2019. The University of Rostock, as the leading partner, cooperated with the World Maritime University and the Maritime University of Szczecin on the issue of “Oil Spill Response within the South Baltic Sea Region”, following the clean-up with biogenic oil binders perspective. SBOIL is a continuation of the project BioBind, which mainly focused on the creation and introduction into service of an oil recovery system designed for coastal waters, shallow areas and adverse weather conditions. The BioBind approach established a methodology relying on biodegradable oil binders that are deployed by airplanes and/or helicopters. The removal process involves a special net-boom, comprising of fishing nets and conventional containment booms. The project SBOIL aims to use this new “green” technology to improve present cross-border oil spill response capabilities.
This handbook will provide the reader with basic knowledge about oil spills, response measures and the structural approaches of the individual South Baltic (SB) countries of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. It aims to close an existing information gap in relation to oil spill response without contradicting existing regulations and already established policies and guidelines. Furthermore, it aspires to improve international collaboration between local and regional authorities and facilitate their better interaction with the respective national incident managers. A certain number of both national and international workshops, as well as an expanded portfolio of capacity building activities based on a table top exercise have been implemented as part of this project; their most important findings and recommendations are summarized in the sections that follow.
The SBOIL project has designed and implemented a very wide range of activities (various SBOIL spill response exercises, national workshops and an international table top exercise), developed spill response scenarios and a biogenic spill response training kit to inform and train people engaged with oil spill response during and after the project. Furthermore, a designated station to be used in the future during a relevant emergency situation was created. Additionally, a biogenic spill response training package in the simulator setting (via a nautical simulator) was developed to cover the needs of the people that will handle this new equipment/technique.
As a starting point, this handbook will focus primarily on providing a comprehensive overview on oil spills in the South Baltic (SB) Sea area, including the related response measures in general. It will also summarize the above mentioned Baltic Sea countries’ structural approaches, as well as their respective legal frameworks in relation to the issue of oil spill response.
This handbook will also provide an insight into the lessons learnt from the tabletop exercise in Poland in 2018, as well as those derived from the national workshops that took place during the 2017-2019 timeframe in Sweden and Poland.
Maritime University of Szczecin